I think we might talk about the dark quite a bit. The change in light levels is tougher for me than the change in temperature. It’s the same for many women I know – the autumn and winter clothes rather feel like our allies. It takes a while to get used to losing all that daylight and there’s not a simple New Shiny Chestnut Brown Boots solution to that one.
So what about light then? The darkness proper has not yet descended upon us. The clocks go back soon though – on Sunday. I have this week been doing what I do every year: try to manage those first very dark mornings and evenings where we’re saying ‘blimey how did it suddenly get this dark?’ And it’s always hard at first. I’ve had 2 early mornings recently and I’ve been stumbling about the house and falling out with my children first thing about (me) not wanting to put on bright lights. It’s literally a case of getting your night eyes and I end up feeling unbalanced and disorientated for a few weeks. It’s as if my body knows the very sense, the wisdom, of the darkness. There’s the promise of rest (well, not in the mornings). Rest is the big message. But unless I actually heed that message, it all goes a bit awry and for a while I feel like I’m up in the middle of the night, should be sleeping, should have the day’s chores all done. The tasks and the interests of the summer don’t suddenly go away. Yet, there’s a need now for me to reduce those tasks and interests. Some people may feel better through adding more into their calendars in winter, to keep busy or distracted from the gloom. I know I need try to clear some space for the possibility of doing (mock) hibernations from time to time, to dig into darkness rather than skirt around its edges or try to clamber on top of it.
After a few weeks’ adjustment to the dark of November, I do get into a better pattern and I start to feel the peace of the darkness. I’ve read over the years a bit about this time of the year being an opportunity to turn inward, or to ‘give in’ and do the self-nurture thing. The good bit about the darkness it that it genuinely makes it harder for me to tear about, constantly doing, doing. There’s the temptation to rush around before and at Christmas, but I dare not open that Pandora’s box here. Not now.
Best EVER piece of writing that turned around my thinking about the seasonal lack of daylight is Jeanette Winterson’s Guardian article: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/31/jeanette-winterson-night-guide
I have never forgotten her phrase ‘food with darkness sealed in’. On the back of that article I have had some rather peculiar and wonderful dark meals. This year, I’ve invited friends, including Chris of course, to share dark food, one night in late November. We will tell of preparations and consummations anon.