Ben Lowry: The joy and progress of the month of March

Daffodils bloom in the early Spring weather as people enjoy the sunshine on the Loughshore area of Jordanstown, Co Antrim on March 14. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Daffodils bloom in the early Spring weather as people enjoy the sunshine on the Loughshore area of Jordanstown, Co Antrim on March 14. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

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This is perhaps the very best point in the calendar.

As I have droned on about previously, I am a daylight obsessive who dreads the short and shortening days of autumn and much prefers the lengthening days of winter and spring.

Therefore I find November a considerably more traumatic time of year than January.

If I was independently wealthy, I would not join the rest of the rich set by spending January in somewhere such as the Caribbean, but rather jet off in the late autumn for the southern hemisphere, in the greedy pursuit of a second annual spring.

In the northern hemisphere, that spring is gathering pace now and life is returning, with daffodils the most obvious manifestation. Daylight is advancing by four minutes per 24 hours, two minutes at each end of the day.

It culminates in the wonderful super long days of June that we get in Northern Ireland. 
It must be even better in the far north of Scotland.

This is why I actually prefer the heady months of May and June to the summer months of July and August.

If the weather is bad in high summer, as not infrequently it is in Northern Ireland, you can get a horrifyingly early glimpse of autumnal gloom.

And yet there can also perhaps be almost too much daylight in June. I was in Iceland in June some years ago, where it never gets dark. 
There was something melancholic and almost frightening looking out across the still sea of the bay in bright daylight at 2am or 3am.

There is no rest for your eyes and it is necessary to have very heavy blinds in a bedroom to shut out the glare. Even then it comes bursting through at the seams.

But mid March is a time of joy and progress. You can wake up very early, perhaps 6.30am, and still catch the dawn.

In June, however, it is almost impossible to beat dawn. You can wake at 5am to almost oppressive levels of brightness.

March is also pleasant at the other end of the day.

It is light almost until 7pm, which always lifts my spirits as the stresses and strains of another day draw to a close. I know many people feel likewise and in recent days I have heard several colleagues commenting happily on the stretch in the evenings.

But March still has a foot in winter, which is no bad thing.

There is still enough darkness for atmospheric, cosy Ulster traditions such as lighting a roaring fire.

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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