What a wonderful time of year is the month of May. Changes can be noticed everywhere, from the blossoming vivaciousness of plants and trees to the liveliness of people on the streets. Summer is on the sunny horizon and this season of warmth brings us endless hope emerging from the gloom of winter and the chill of spring.
Of course, that sense of summery cheerfulness remains the entitlement of those living well above and below equatorial regions. Sure, those of us that reside near to our planet’s longest girth line rarely experience cold such as the teeth-chattering temperatures suffered by family and friends in Europe, but we don’t get to delight in daylight extending late into the evening either.
That may be somewhat of an odd comparison to make, but when you have spent years in regions that boundary the equator you become not only accustomed to cultures, customs and cuisines – you also adapt to a very regular and unchanging daily solar schedule.
Mauritius, for example, at this time of year sees the setting sun disappear at around 5:40 pm in the evening, while in the UK that same vanishing act is creeping up to nearly 8:30 pm! By the time the northern hemisphere’s June 21st solstice heralds the arrival of summer, families all across Britain could well be enjoying barbecues without the need for swathes of artificial light up until 9:20 pm! Meanwhile, over in Mauritius – at the equivalent chronological time of 9:20 pm – it’s already been dark for over three hours!
Granted, in December and January the island of Mauritius is gifted an extra hour or so in the evening, which allows visitors additional time for their hunts around markets or an extended evening stroll.
Still, that extra hour is hardly comparable to the promise of coming through a winter in Europe where in its midst darkness can envelope the cityscape and countryside by 3:30 pm to balmy evenings that seemingly could last forever! What a positively pleasing transformation is that lee way to sunlight!
A few years back during the month of July, I brought a few friends on holiday to Spain, all of whom had never travelled outside of Mauritius. Arriving late at night encouraged us all to bed, with a view to making the most of our first day. Having slept on the plane, we awoke with first light to begin our holiday. The day’s activities soon brought us to lunch and once finished my repast I announced “Siesta!” My companions laughed and I could hear them planning their afternoon as I nodded off.
An hour later, I rejoined the gang as they drank wine and enjoyed the pool. This frivolity continued until nearly 6 pm when someone noticed the time and suggested dinner before it got dark. It was my turn to laugh and responded that there was plenty of time before ‘dark!’ By 7:30 pm there was a distinct air of confusion and when darkness still hadn’t arrived by 9 pm, my friends had begun to wonder if I was playing some kind of joke using their time-pieces and clocks in the house! Such is the fact that they had never experienced elongated sun lit evenings that it utterly confounded them all.
They soon became used to Spanish summer lifestyles – taking a nap in the afternoon and eating late at night – but I do know they were glad to return home and more routine hours of sun all year round.
I myself, do love the long summer evenings of beer gardens and barbecues . . . just eliminate the cold winters!
Bye for now.