A Very Short Day

To mark this short day I found a lovely, if somewhat sober sonnet by Edmond Holmes, from ‘The Triumph of Love’ collection, which I would like to share with you.

Like as the thrush in winter, when the skies
Are drear and dark, and all the woods are bare,
Sings undismayed, till from his melodies
Odours of Spring float the frozen air, –
So in my heart when sorrow’s icy breath
Is bleak and bitter and its frost is strong,
Leaps up, defiant of despair and death,
A sunlit fountain of triumphant song.
Sing on, sweet singer, till the violets come
And south winds blow; sing on, prophetic bird!
Oh if my lips, which are for ever dumb,
Could sing to men what my sad heart has heard,
Life’s darkest hour with songs of joy would ring;
Life’s blackest frost would blossom into Spring.


The winter solstice occurred here in Germany at 5.48am this morning. I was not up to experience the moment, although I doubt very much if anything would have marked the moment anyway. Since it is, quite simply, just a moment – albeit a moment many of us have been waiting for – and it is over in a tick and leaves that little itch of a thought behind… Yes, the days will not become noticeably longer for a couple of weeks yet, but they ARE getting longer. And do you sense that tinge of excitement at the thought of snowdrops, daffodils and tulips popping up in the garden to greet the spring?

We haven’t had winter yet though, so I mustn’t count my chickens…

I had in fact been looking forward to a snowy winter, but now I think I may be happier to forego snow and ice and skip straight ahead to the March winds and April showers! I have been reading how the winter appears to be just as mild in most of the US and UK too. And John at A Walk in the Garden in North Carolina has already spotted some daffodils in flower! Have you seen any daffodils yet?


Whatever the weather, I wish you all a very happy and harmonious Christmas, full of all the things you wished for. And I look forward to seeing you in the New Year to share another year of my garden and kitchen with you and to be delighted by all your wonderful posts too.

Merry Christmas!





44 thoughts on “A Very Short Day

  1. A beautiful sonnet and a wonderful post, Cathy! I am still waiting for any sort of narcissus; only the paperwhites are even above ground yet in our (normal) mild winter, and they are only showing green leaf tips. But even without the cold, I am looking forward to the days growing longer πŸ™‚

    • Hi Amy. I noticed my snowdrop shoots are just peeping above the ground…. the earliest I have ever seen them. No daffodils here for a while yet though. Have a lovely Christmas Amy.

  2. Yes, we have daffodils out in the garden, 2 different varieties and in towns the daffs are flowering along with the Christmas decorations – bizarre!
    Happy Christmas wishes to you and your family Cathy!

  3. A lovely sonnet, I haven’ t come across this before. Yes I have daffodils, but they are the early ones, ‘ Rijnveld’ s Early Sensation’ and the lovely little ‘Cedric Morris’.
    Happy Christmas Cathy.

    • Chloris, I found this in Edith Holden’s Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and had difficulty finding where it had come from as it is rather unknown. The author wrote a whole collection of romantic sonnets about love, and they are really lovely, albeit a bit too much in one go! I have no idea why the poet is not better known.
      Have a lovely Christmas Chloris!

    • Absolutely! Since moving to the country and working from home the weather, light and seasons affect me so much more. Have a lovely Christmas Brian – with some sunshine I hope.

  4. No dark and dreary times outdoors at the moment but no doubt the bad weather will strike as usual in Jan. or Feb. Lovely poem, thanks for that and also for sharing your thoughts in your beautiful blog. Merry christmas to you and your loved ones πŸ™‚

    • Or perhaps spring will come straight after Christmas? πŸ˜‰ Thank you for your lovely comment Annette. Merry Christmas and ‘Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch’! πŸ™‚

  5. What a beautiful post! We wish you and yours, much joy and peace this festive season and through the year ahead.
    Warm greetings,
    Dina, Klausbernd, Siri & Selma

    • I checked on my clump of snowdrops yesterday and the shoots are showing here too! They might flower by new year if it stays this mild! Have a wonderful Christmas Donna!

    • Thank you. Nasturtiums? Well, I still have a dianthus in a pot flowering like mad here… No sign of winter arriving here yet and the ski slopes south of us are bare! Wishing you a lovely Christmas too!

  6. Happy Christmas Cathy, I was hoping for a colder early winter too, I fear no good can come of this very mild weather. There are reports of Daffodils in flower at Anglesea Abbey in Cambridge already.

    • I just hope we don’t get a late winter at the end of February, when we are all ready for spring!
      And I do hope Christmas day is at least dry and sunny for us both, but then a bit of snow would be nice afterwards.
      Merry Christmas Julie!

  7. I haven’t noticed any daffodils yet, but if I do I won’t be surprised. Our forecast here in Virginia is for record highs in the mid-70’s all week. So 75 degrees on Christmas day! Some of the greens in our garden, that might normally have been killed by the cold, have instead bolted and are flowering. Nature seems confused. πŸ™‚

    Best wishes for a very merry Christmas!

    • That is really warm! It has been around 10Β°C here the last few days, but a light frost at night. Nature is still confused here too though, and I might have snowdrops out by new year! Thanks for visiting, Bill. And Merry Christmas!

  8. What a welcome day it was too Cathy! What fine words from a new to me poet – will have to find out more about Edmond Holmes. We seem to have too many of those south winds of late and I think that many of us would prefer a decent cold spell. No daffies as yet but my special snowdrops under cover are way ahead of themselves. Wishing you a most Merry Christmas Cathy and may the new year treat you and your garden kindly!

    • I will also be looking for more from this poet Anna. Let’s see what the new year brings… maybe some frostier weather. A Merry Christmas to you too Anna!

  9. Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas Cathy! Love your mossy stone. We’ve had our April showers all just today–very wet the past month actually. The weather is warm. Daffodils are up a few inches, but not blooming. A short winter would be nice.

    • Hi Susie. Our moss is thriving all around the garden, and it looks so green! My snowdrops are also showing shoots. I agree, a short winter would be lovely. Snow in January and then a long mild spring! πŸ˜‰

  10. A lovely post Cathy. Surprised at your warm winter weather so far. We were hoping to spend Christmas in Germany this year…even had the airline reservations but couldn’t get the hotels we wanted. Perhaps we will travel to your area next fall. Frohe Weihnachten.

    • Hi Karen. Shame about your holiday not working out this year. We are not having winter weather at all. It’s even too warm for the ski resorts to make artificial snow, so no skiing unless you go up high! Frohe Weihnachten Karen!

      • It was hard canceling our plane tickets but my husband said maybe it was meant to be. We love fall in Bavaria so I think that is what we will plan for.

  11. Cathy, what a beautiful post. The poem is melancholy but beautifully suited to the day. I love your photos as well.

    We’ve had rain (yay) but now we’re falling into the twenties at night, extremely cold for San Jose. The world’s weather is upside down.

    No daffodils yet, but it will be interesting to see when they pop up this year. It’s usually the highlight of my February.

    • Hope you have had a lovely Christmas Alys. We saw on our news that parts of California had snow, while we enjoyed temperatures up to 14Β°C! I wonder if your rain turned to snow? I am now in England and it is very mild and wet with flooding up in the north of the country.
      Take care if it’s icy. xx

      • Hi Cathy. How nice to read that you are spending some time in England. Will you be staying long or just through the new year? I hope you’re catching up with family and old friends.

        It’s been very strange here in the States: mild temps on the East coast, and unseasonable colder temps here. We had frost this morning and expect it to drop again over the next few days. The top of Mt. Hamilton, which is technically San Jose, has snow for the first time in many years, but down here in the valley it’s just cold (and dry).

        I’m sorry to hear about the flooding. I follow another blogger living in England who’s home was severely damaged in flooding this time last year.

        I will definitely watch for ice. I walked in the house in slippers yesterday and again today, but now my foot is throbbing so I’ve backed off yet again. Slipping on ice would be a disaster. How are your feet doing? Did the rest before the holidays make a difference? I sure know how you feel. xo

        • Hi Alys, apparently it is now getting colder in Germany, but the UK has more storms and rain to come. I am glad my family live on high ground!
          It’s good to relax now that all the fuss of the holidays is dying down. I shall be putting my feet up a lot the next few days… πŸ˜‰ I sometimes wish I could turn the clock back a few years, but hope 2016 will rejuvenate me! Take it easy with your feet too Alys. I think we now both know how much we rely on them. Xx

          • I too am enjoying the post-holiday down time. It’s been nice to have the hustle and bustle behind us. I’m glad to read that your family lives on higher ground. The flooding is quite bad. I see that Ontario, Canada just got slammed with their first big snow storm of the season. It looks like it is catching up with everybody.

            I too hope 2016 is rejuvenating. I’m sitting on the couch as I type this with the lights on the tree sparkling and a warm cat in my lap, feet elevated. The boys are scattered about the house playing games. It’s blissful. xo

  12. Hi Cathy, I hope your Christmas was wonderful and I wish you all the best for an excellent new year! I agree that fast forwarding to spring wouldn’t be the worst thing, the waiting has worn me out and I’ve lost patience with winter πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Frank. Wishing you all the best for 2016 too. Looks like Germany might be a bit frostier when I get back next week, but in the UK it is still very mild, damp and very blustery and my Mum’s garden is greener than ever!

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