It was spring. Sodden ground, smell of earth. The wind beat through twigs, gave off a greenish odor like struck flints. Coltsfoot in the ditches; furious dabs of tulips stuttering in gardens. Slanting rain. Clock hands leapt to pellucid evenings. The sky riffled like cards in a chalk-white hand.

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

What does the verb "leap" mean here? How can clock hands leap to the certain time?

EDIT: In this sentence, I had trouble understanding why time (I understood that clock hands indicate time) would leap to pellucid (brighter opposed to dark) evenings, particularly in spring. From some of the comments I realized that the verb 'leap' isn't a physical leap but an expression that there is longer day light in spring than winter time. As TRomano suggested in his comment, daylight saving (this might mean 'leap' as 'going ahead') helps the spring time to have brighter evenings. For example how much light left at 6 o'clock in winter vs. in spring. Thank you all for the helpful comments.

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    IMHO, it describes the spring time. In springtime, days become longer, and when the clock hands "go up", say from 6 pm to 9 pm, they "leap" into "pellucid evenings". The meaning is probably that while in winter the evenings are darker and are muddled with rain, sleet, etc, in spring they become more "transparent", "airy". Her language is poetic. Feb 12, 2016 at 4:42
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    "Spring forward, fall back": We set the clocks ahead an hour. Daylight Saving Time.
    – TimR
    Feb 12, 2016 at 11:21
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it involves interpreting literature, which is open to multiple interpretations, and in particular one that employs a particularly compressed and cramped (one wants to say pretentious and (up)chuckable) style.
    – GoDucks
    Feb 12, 2016 at 18:34
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    @GoDucks - I find her style beautiful in that book, exactly because she leaves so much space for the reader's imagination. Feb 13, 2016 at 5:28
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    As an English learner, I can't never fully understand the books written in English without some help. It is sometimes to do with grammar, structure, words, or sentence itself. I don't care there are different interpretations for the sentence I asked. As long as the answers you give turn on light in my head and make me visualize the passage, I am grateful. Otherwise I would have to read only some kind of textbooks which don't throw any ambiguity at my face.
    – whitecap
    Feb 13, 2016 at 6:04

1 Answer 1


Leap here indicates movement forward in time. Clock hands moving forward can most straightforwardly be taken to mean something like the days move into evenings.

Likely dictionary senses that may apply in this context include sudden or fast movement, and so the idea that time seemed to pass quickly into eveningtime.

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