At Lisai’s Market both customers and those behind the counters agreed: the days are rapidly getting shorter and we don’t like it. If we are waking before sunrise, can the rock-hard dark days of winter be far behind?
Out of curiosity I looked up a sunrise-sunset calendar. Listen to this: On September 1 sunrise is at 6:15 a.m. (EDT) and sunset 7:26 p.m. Day length is 13h 12m. But on Sept 30, they are 6:47 a.m., 6:34 p.m. and the day is 11h 48m long. We lost 1 hour and 24 minutes in day length over the course of the month!
In October we lose 35 minutes in the morning but 49 minutes at sunset. Day length becomes 10h 20m, 1 hour and 25 minutes shorter yet again.
In November the rate slows, so we lose a mere hour over the course of the month, and around the solstice in December the days are as short as they will ever be: 8h 58m for four days. Ah, but here is the good news: on Christmas Eve the days start to lengthen. Isn’t that wonderful? When the excitement of Christmas is over and we find ourselves chained to the cold, lifeless corpse of winter we can mutter, “The days are getting longer. The days are getting longer.”
I fight the darkness by suspending frugality rules. All lights are on in the main areas from waking to bed time. We burn candles every day. I sit by the full spectrum light to do much of my desk work, though I really don’t think I have SAD. It helps. I string white Christmas tree lights along the exposed log beams in our dining room and parlor, and they stay up until April.
I did mention cold, didn’t I? Turtlenecks are my mainstay. Socks and shoes a must. But the fire in the woodstove is my chocolate: a comfort, a treat, a source of calories. (Ahem.) Come spring I’ll be ready to sweep all the firewood debris out the door but for many months the woodstove will be at the center of our homelife.
But truly, the best thing we do to fight the winter blues is have company over. Soups, stews, breads, and pies appear frequently on our table, comforting homey fare for raw days. Why not have someone over to share it? The lone benefit of long nights is that the gardens have been put to bed since October and folks have no excuse for turning up a dinner and game night. Winter is our social season.
For the cold we pile on quilts and sweaters. Against the darkness we revel in light. But hospitality binds fellow sufferers in the warmth and delight of good food and company.
In some ways our northern winters have the summers beat.