November. It’s dark when I get up in the morning, and it’s getting dark when I leave work. Today the sunrise was at 0701 and sunset at 1654 – less than 10 hours of full daylight.
Some people dread the onset of winter and its long nights. I don’t love cold and snow – I just acclimatize. I do find solace in the darkness, though!
Do you get lonely in the dark?
I am fine on my own, but living with Rom is better! I am virtually never alone in the house at night, but I didn’t mind when I was. Lots of things have made me feel lonely – break-ups, being an empty nester, living far from relatives, watching people in happy relationships when I wasn’t – but none of them really cranked up the intensity in the dark.
In times of great stress, I might wake up at night and worry about things that seem less important in the daylight.
Are you afraid of the dark?
(not my video!)
To reach my childhood home, we would turn off the highway, down an unlit gravel drive, and into the woods, where our house was out of sight of the neighbours. I grew up listening to leaves rustle and branches creak and rain pummel down on the roof. I would watch the darkness come down on the lake and envelope us. It was so peaceful. Even eerie things like the call of a loon just accentuated the stillness. The sky had a billion stars.
In the evenings, we would walk to friends’ houses or to “the store” (there was just the one). This was my favourite time of year, with the crisp air and the leaves crunching underfoot. Sometimes I’d see the moon shine through fog, in the dark, and it could get a little creepy…but in a delicious way!
Fortunately, we didn’t have coyotes.
A more realistic fear was safety. I wouldn’t walk through the woods in the dark, or trip over things or get lost, but having to walk down the highway could be scary. You never knew if drivers were attentive and would see you. Stranger danger wasn’t a big problem, but I dreaded the thought of a car pulling up beside me. Often dogs were running free and would chase and nip at you.
Now when I walk home from work in the dark, I walk three blocks on cement sidewalks with proper street lighting, in a well-travelled area, and never take shortcuts. It is not a worry at all. Dogs are pampered and safe indoors. City life is so different.
I know some people have experienced traumas that they connect with the dark, and I’m so glad I have not.
Do you believe in ghosts?
This is down to personal experience. If the supernatural reached out to you, and you felt it, there is no saying otherwise! I have not had this experience so it isn’t a part of my life. I’m not afraid of spirits. Some say they are consoled by them. I’m not afraid of what stirs in the dark (unless it’s a skunk!)
Do you seek the dark?
I am the furthest thing from nocturnal, being very much an early riser. I rarely keep late hours. But when it gets dark at 5 pm, it catches up with me, whether I seek it or not!
I confess I do like the summer when it gets light at 5 a.m., bird chirping keeps me awake, and when I do get up, I feel very alive.
Do you fight it?
Going out in the evening to busy and bright spots? Sleeping ten hours a night? One way of dealing with the dark is to give over to the night, the other is to avoid it. I like to give in with lots of quiet nights and sleep!
Doing the Dark
All told, I have three strategies for dealing with long hours of darkness. One is to enjoy the coziness of staying indoors with a book and a blanket and a cup of tea. One is to give myself an extra shot of motivation by forcing myself to do things like get up and do a home workout even though it’s still pitch black outside. And finally, I do like to get out and feel the cool air and gaze at the stars. I think about all the plants with their growth suspended until they feel heat again. I think about all the animals foraging or hibernating and living their secret lives in the dark winter. I feel like I am part of their cycle: it is a lower-energy, use-up-the-stores time, a do-what-you-must time, and a waiting-for-what’s-next time. And of course, a few winter festivals and celebrations are welcome!
For those of you with winter approaching – how do you deal with months of darkness?