While walking out of the library, I shrugged my shoulder to my ear, pinning my phone in place. This freed up my hands to rifle through my bag for car keys. I turned to push the door open with my back and suddenly said, “Hang on a second, Mom.”
I don’t remember what we were talking about, but I cut in mid-sentence. “I’m just now leaving the library and it’s so light out here. I mean—full bright. It’s what,” I glanced at the phone, “almost six o’clock? This is so great. I just had to say something.
Our days have been growing longer gradually since December 22. Statistically, I know the hours of light have been steadily expanding. But it wasn’t until this week that all that accumulated light proverbially hit me in the face. It had piled up so high, it had become impossible to ignore. The light begged to be acknowledged and celebrated.
A reassuring reminder that no matter what is happening in our own lives and hearts, the seasons are faithful to turn. The darkness is faithful to fade.
I’ve long said darkness is the one thing I wasn’t prepared for when we moved to North Dakota. Everyone talked about the wind, cold, and snow—but no one prepared me for the disquieting feeling of living in so few hours of light. In the same vein, I’m never prepared for the utter lightness of heart I feel when I notice the hours of sunshine growing rapidly longer.
A few days after being slack-jawed on my way out of the library, I was at Marketplace picking up bread. In line, I struck up a conversation about the weather and wind with the man in front of me and the cashier—as one does in Hot Dish Land.
“It’s full steam ahead from here. We’re gaining more than three minutes of daylight every day right now!” the gentleman said as he hefted jugs of milk back into his cart.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes. And it adds up fast. Things really starts to snowball in February,” he replied. I laughed and asked if he intended to be clever with the “snowball” comment—he hadn’t. At that point, we all said “Welp,” and “I s’pose,” and the conversation broke up.
I keep thinking about what he said. About his excitement at three minutes of light. About the deeper truth that small things turn into big things when they accumulate. A small addition of minutes eventually turns into hours—until a day spent mostly in darkness is a day saturated in sunlight.
December 21 is the shortest day of the year. Here in Minot, daylight lasts a mere 8 hours and 24 minutes. (Yes, I know there are places with shorter days—but I’m not from here and that seems awfully dark to me.) On December 22 we gain three seconds of light. Then seven seconds. Then fourteen.
The seconds melt into minutes so gradually we often don’t notice nature doing its beautiful work until we stumble out of the library expecting darkness—only to be surprised by dazzling visibility, impossible to ignore.
Given time and consistency, small increments become monumental. When a shift begins with three seconds, three minutes begins to seem like a miracle.
In a world hungry for quick fixes, I find much comfort in the gradual return of longer days, and the method of which they approach. We are all moving toward something. Maybe it’s a healthier body, a calmer mind, career ambitions. Maybe it’s potty-training, or learning to read, or teaching your child to share their toys. Nature offers us beautiful proof that big changes don’t need to happen overnight.
Today could be the day you are three seconds closer to your goal. Tomorrow, maybe you’ll be seven seconds nearer. The change and the effort you put forth in faith will snowball. Small effort will multiply into great impact with time.
Whatever you are moving toward, keep going. Remember, even majestic North Dakota summers begin as three extra seconds of daylight in the darkness of winter.
For more stories of life in North Dakota and practical tips for honing positive mindset, join me on Instagram (@amy_allender) or Facebook (@amyallenderblog).