Notice, and thanks

Notice, and thanks
Nathaële, Diabolo and me

Friday, 27 January

In January, my Paris dog-walking friend Nathaële and I always remark how the days may be getting longer but to all appearances, not in the morning. Beyond the glare of the city lights on the terraces of the Tuileries Gardens, you can’t see a thing, including your own dog, unless she has a flashing red light attached to her harness.

Into the dark

But this year, having spent much of the month in the Perche, I see things differently.

Paris or the Perche, I take Tasha on the same route, in the same 7.30-8.30 time slot, every day. In the Perche, I’m the illuminated one, equipped with a headlamp to help me navigate bumpy, muddy, branch-strewn paths. Tasha replaces her bicycle light (it would not survive even one of her romps through the brush) with a gilet jaune to alert over-eager hunters, should she be led astray into the lighter hours of the morning, that she is not game. A side benefit is that I too can see her, and from quite some distance, even in the penumbra.


This is our third January in the Perche but the first without major distractions such as the long renovation of our house. With no workers banging and clanging my sensibilities to a pulp, with no vans blocking my view, I am generally more receptive to the world around me. And I have noticed this winter the small but steady matinal increments in daylight. It depends somewhat, of course, on the weather. The grey mornings are less luminous...

Than those presaging sun...

But in the country, minutes matter. I begin to turn off my headlamp several steps earlier every day, and each time it feels like a mark of hope, the promise of a brightening, widening world. Though different internet sites bizarrely give different calculations of daylight each month, according to, we will have gained 66 minutes in January, then 94min in February and 115min in March - indisputable grounds for optimism.

Towards the light

This winter I have determined that the light of January in general is a precious but undervalued commodity. The sepia tones of a foggy day prompt melancholic nostalgia...

...while frosty mornings boost your energy level...

...and reveal nature's design...

Icy creativity

January light contributes to a variety of moods inside too, from honeyed comfort...

Cheery winter fruit contemplative introspection...


Last night I talked to my London friend Victoria, who mentioned having recently attended the Winslow Homer exhibition that just finished at the National Gallery. She serendipitously added that she'd been particularly moved by an extract from a letter Homer sent to his brother and that was quoted in the blurb next to an 1896 Maine Coast painting:

“The life I have chosen gives me the full hours of enjoyment for the balance of my life. The sun will not rise, or set, without my notice, and thanks.”

I couldn't have said it better myself.

January light at dusk, le Perche


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