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Cracked darkness

It's already ten days since midwinter: the northern hemisphere's day of shortest light and longest darkness; the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its lowest possible height, barely rising before setting only a few hours later. Since then it has begun its slow journey back up, the hours of daylight imperceptibly lengthening, a minute or so each day. But just as there is often a final, sudden burst of flame and sparks from a dying fire, so in these in-between, semi-normal days, linking Christmas with New Year, we are often cloaked in a deeper, post-midwinter darkness.