It was two years and a week ago that my mother had a major stroke.
She was in a hospital about twenty miles away, and we used to visit her most evenings after work.
I'd finish teaching at about 7pm and we'd leap in the car and fight our way through endless roadworks and rush hour traffic to spend an hour with her.
My husband would drive, and I would watch the skies a deep blue-black, watch the moon appearing through torn gaps in the clouds, watch the india-ink lines of the bare branches of the tree.
Coming home, enduring the same road works, we might talk, or we might just travel in silence, wrapped in our own thoughts.
There would be time to eat a hasty supper, and then fall into bed, exhausted, by about 10 pm.
I'd sort of forgotten about those days, until today, driving home through the dusk, watching the sky change through paler and darker shades of blue, the clouds from shade from grey to pink to purple to black...
It was a kind of mercy, that those darkest days were at the darkest time of the year, and that improvements in my mother's state were heralded by the approach of Spring.
Apparently today, 7th November, was considered to be the first day of Winter in medieval times, ending on 7th February, so that 21st December was truly Midwinter.