Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunshine on the Snow

Ground hog day has come and gone and seems to predict another six weeks of winter- at least for Pennsylvania. Here in Estonia we don't really need rodents to tell us that the winter is going to stay for a while longer. Yet the quality of the winter is changing. The extraordinary darkness of December is gradually giving way to lighter days. At this time of the year, the length of the days grows very rapidly- a good five minutes extra daylight each day, so that even over a week or so, the feeling grows stronger that the near total daylight of high summer is on its way.

Yet, the winter itself continues with full force. It has been exceptionally cold and exceptionally snowy. As I write, the snow on my balcony is about a metre deep, and the piles of cleared snow in the car park top three metres. The skies are lowering grey with the promise of yet more of the white stuff. Yesterday was a clear, crisp day with the bright sunshine reflected on the white carpet in motes of diamond fire.

Taking a walk- slowly picking across icy and snow obstructed pavements- I came to the sea. There is a broken carapace of pack ice across the Bay of Tallinn. The dark channels of open water that are cleared to allow the ferries enter the harbour steamed in the cold. The view across to Viimsi peninsula seemed strangely foreshortened by the ridges on the ice, where the swans and other sea birds scrambled about in what seemed like a rather chilly misery. Yet everywhere there was light, the snow and the ice dazzling under the blazing sun.

The seasons are slowly turning and though we are winter-fatigued, longing to throw off the heavy winter coats, scarves, gloves, hats; at least the light gives promise of the brief, precious summer days that are coming.

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