With our switch back to standard time last weekend, we’ve most definitely entered the darker half of the year. My husband and I took our first evening walk in full dark yesterday, and we can expect months more of the same.
Part of me mourns the loss of hot sun and long days. I certainly feel the dwindling abundance of the summer garden as plants die off. But I also enjoy the darkness.
Summer is bright, noisy and frenetic. Everything is in motion. I’m in motion. Long days mean more tasks on the to-do list—an expectation to ‘make hay while the sun shines’. Summer gardening can start as early as 6 am and continue past 9 pm. It feels wrong to lay about in bed when the sun pops up at 5 am, and who wants to go to bed at 10pm, before it’s even dark?
The bonus of all that work is abundant fruits and vegetables, weed-free gardens, clean gutters, tidy lawns …
But it gets exhausting after a while.
About the time we go off Daylight Savings Time, my body has had enough. That extra hour we gain isn’t enough to make up for the post-summer exhaustion, and I find myself going to bed by 9 pm, happy that it’s dark long before then.
In addition to the extra sleep, I appreciate the calm of night. A walk in the dark is an entirely different experience than a walk during daylight hours. The chatter of sparrows and starlings is absent. Magpies are silent. Neighbourhood dogs are indoors instead of barking at passersby. Quieter sounds come to the fore—the zit-zit of katydids, or the trill of a frog. A lone sheep maa-ing in a distant paddock. The gurgle of the local water race. There is peace in the darkness that is difficult to find during the day.
In the morning, I feed the chickens in the dark. They are groggy and slow—instead of racing toward me as soon as I enter the paddock, they wander my way, muttering their greetings.
Although there are too many streetlights near our new house that obscure the fainter stars, I still take time every morning to greet the night sky—moon, planets and constellations.
I am comfortable in the dark—it is a soft velvet cloak wrapped around my shoulders.
And when I choose to come inside in the dark of longer nights, there is the warmth of the light. The smell of cooking. The rows of pumpkins stashed on top of the cupboards. Summer’s bounty stored up for winter.
During the dark half of the year, I have extra time to spend on baking—I can make fiddly cookies, cakes with cooked frostings, fancy decorated cupcakes. I have more time for sewing, spinning, and other crafts. I can sit and read a book without feeling guilty about wasting daylight.
So while there is some sadness to the end of summer, there is also joy in the darkness. And there’s the knowledge that summer will return and I will miss the books and baking of the dark side.