Giant flowers were being planted this morning, I have no idea why. On the roundabout at the junction of the N77 and N78 (or, if you are someone who drives the road, at the roundabout where the Durrow road departs from the Castlecomer road from Kilkenny), there were large imitation bluebells, metal structures seven or eight feet high, much taller than the man planting them. It would have been interesting to have stopped and to have asked the man about his synthetic plants, but, as anyone who drives from Kilkenny toward Durrow will know, there is no safe place to stop, particularly when there is a line of cars following.
The bluebells brought a mood of cheer on a deeply grey November morning, the month of the dead seeming less dreary, for a few moments, at least. Earlier, on Dean Street in Kilkenny, council staff had been filling a flower bed with plants that would flower in the spring. In the next three or four weeks, the nursery on the road between Durrow and Abbeyleix will put up its sign advertising bare root hedging plants for sale. Apparently, the late autumn is a good time for planting hedges.
Being of a depressive disposition, a condition exacerbated by the dying of the daylight, such small inklings of different days to come have become important. Having lived for eleven years in Dublin, where it was possible to hardly notice the passing of the seasons, especially when living in a house permanently illuminated by the streetlights at a busy road junction, the move back to the country five years ago was a sharp lesson in the importance of daylight. Now, even a few minutes variation in the length of the days becomes noticeable. For me, the loss of the light is significant.
But it is only seven weeks now until the solstice, the dim, dark days of Christmas, as my late mother-in-law called them, will bring an end to the deepening of the gloom. The turn takes a while, midwinter being known by the Welsh as Cam Ceiliog, a cockerel’s footstep, the distance by which the days lengthen, but even a cockerel’s footstep is a step in the right direction. But in eleven or twelve weeks from now, tea time greetings will be accompanied by, “there’s a grand stretch in the days.”
It is odd. In most respects, the passing of the years make me increasingly indifferent towards those things about which I can do nothing, but when it comes to the seasons, each passing year makes them matter more.