The worst part about winter is the lack of daylight. The cold weather is unpleasant, the leafless trees and heaps of snow become monotonous, but the lack of daylight is what saps the life out of you. To get a good idea of exactly how bad it is, imagine how little daylight there is in the darkest days of December–and now imagine a day in late June with the same amount of daylight. It is a green, warm day in June . . . and the sun doesn’t rise until 7:00 AM and it sets at about 4:00 PM. That picture of summer is . . . dark. The very idea seems to suck the life out of summer. And that is what the darkness does to winter. If December was blazing with all the brilliant light of June, it wouldn’t be nearly half so bad as it is, even if it was still cold and full of snow.
The darkness begins to grow oppressive, at the beginning of November. It is like some critical point has been reached, and some switched is flipped. Life has become . . . lifeless. Worse, at the beginning of November there is about two full months of the darkness growing worse before it even starts to get better. At the beginning of November I sit there and think, “Darkness is coming.” Months and months fighting that soul sucking force–not to be too dramatic of anything.
The oppressive darkness will remain until the end of February, but at least with the turning of the new year there is one ray of hope: The world is starting to grow brighter again. Who cares about celebrating the calendar new year–what I want to celebrate is the change to increasing daylight. That is a thing to party about, especially in the middle of the winter.
In this darkest time of the year, a sunny day feels like nothing more than a fleeting hour of light. You turn around once and it is night again, and you didn’t even have a chance to begin enjoying the daylight. And on a cloudy day it feels like the sun has never risen. That time of the summer when a sunny day seemed to go on without an end is now a distant memory, like a dream. Life has become a daily grind where one plods forward, one foot after the last, head down. Occasionally you look up to see only the dreary landscape around you. For a moment you glance ahead, hoping to catch a glimpse of spring, and then you look down, plodding on again, one day of winter leading to the next.
An end does come, eventually. By March the anticipation growing throughout February is ready to burst forth. Hope is on the air. Everything that felt so dull and depressing before is now full of life and ambition. Everything seemed pointless and uninspiring in those winter months. Now in March ambition and plans abound. Nothing feels impossible, or too far fetched.
Yes, March and April are those months when vigor comes rushing back. Every day is a better day, because every day the sun rises earlier, and sets later. Sunny day leads on to sunny day, and even those cloudy rainy days seem more full of life than the best day in the middle of December.
It’s a great time of year. The only problem is that right now this is the first half of December, so all that is still three months away.
It’s going to be a long winter.