November 10, 2024

Weak Light

It's depressing how quickly we spend the light we bank in the switch to daylight savings time at the end of October. Those first few days we put up with the sun setting shortly after we left work in the evenings, but we were rewarded with a bit more sun, maybe just a petal on the kitchen wall, in the mornings--we took all we could get.

But now just a few weeks later, and the sun is setting before five pm, and the mornings are dimming quicker than ever. A cold rain has fallen all night and the gray sky lingers. It'll get darker yet--we can play around with our human-made hours as much as we want but it won't stop December from turning into a Jack London short story.

The darkness used to depress me, but I take a bit of comfort in it now. In the summers, I feel a need to get out of the office as soon as possible--to eat up the sunlight and warmth. But now, since sunset happens before I punch out, there's no point. I go down the street, grab a big fat coffee, and spend a few hours working on my own stuff in the dark office.

I think my friend Marc finds comfort in the lack of light as well. He lived in Iceland last year, where the swings from light to dark are more dramatic. I visited him in January. We took off from Minneapolis in darkness and arrived in Iceland in darkness. With the uniform tone to the sky and the change in hours, the trip was unsettling, as though the sun had completely forsaken the northern hemisphere. We sat in his darkened living room until the sun rose weakly at eleven-thirty. Out on the street, the light turned the snowbanks blue. It was dawn for a couple hours before the sun set again. In Iceland, people drink all night long. As you stumble out of the bar at six am, it could just as well be ten pm, or five pm, or ten am.

But I could only stand that darkness for a few days. As soon as we took off for London and the plane turned south, I leaned toward the window. Dawn came quickly, the sun rising high over the water. It felt like my skin was hungry for it.

I think one reason why Marc and I don't mind the dark season is because we both look better under lamp-light than we do in day light.

Posted by jason at November 10, 2024 07:58 AM