Daylight Fading

The clocks turned back an hour on Saturday night, and we all slid a little closer to Winter. As if to sound the WINTER IS COMING horn, Sunday dawned damp and gloomy, with the sun cutting through storm clouds every so often, just to remind you it’s still in the game. Indeed, the sun had moments of victory yesterday. Despite the trees all but spent of their yellow and red and orange leaves, Autumn isn’t going down without a fight, just yet. There’s some blue left in the daylight still.

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Put an Antipodean in Europe, and the hardest thing for them to adjust to is the weather. I would go so far as to say, more specifically, the light. We’re simply not used to a large part of the year being so dark. Yes, the sun sets earlier and rises later in the Winter, yes during the Summer our days are longer. But the difference in daylight between our seasons, isn’t that big. Year round, we still receive a generous dose of light (and sun) to which we’re rather accustomed. The difference in daylight here is enormous. Summer days seem to stretch on forever. Winter days seem never to start. The colder months on this side of the globe, which dominate the calendar, can be actually disorienting for us Southern Hemisphere souls.

The cold, you can buy a coat (or five) for, but the dark – there’s nothing you can do against that. I remember when I first moved to Münster, my flatmate mentioned a solarium visit (something us Australians are far more wary of than the Europeans, for obvious reasons). I gave my usual cancer spiel, but she said, ‘it isn’t about getting a tan. It’s about getting some light during the Winter, especially around February.’ I haven’t visited a solarium, but I know what she means now. Around February, you’re ready to prostrate yourself beneath whatever sliver of sun slips between the cracks, even if you’re prostrating yourself on a patch of land crunchy with dirty snow. Around February, one goes mad.

So daylight’s fading. It was dark last night at 5.30pm, a full five hours earlier than in the summer. Soon that will be 4.30pm. Soon the sun won’t be up before me, or before I’ve finished my morning coffee. Soon these trees will be stark naked, clawing at an eternally grey sky, and it will feel like bedtime at 6pm.

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But there’s still some blue in it yet. So here’s to stocking up on vitamin D and not counting down to darkness, but instead to hot glühwein and Christmas lights. (And escaping the worst of the Winter by fleeing to Australia for the summer. There’s only so much darkness an Antipodean can take.)

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5 Replies to “Daylight Fading”

  1. Our clocks turn back an hour this coming Saturday, and I am already wearing the same clothes that I just put away at the end of July after returning from winter below the equator.
    The daylight thing is absolutely the worst. I go to university just three hours away from my home in another state, and yet the winters are very different. It’s not as cold here on campus, but this thing called the “permacloud” (actually what the weathermen call it) settles in around December and won’t leave until at least March. Our counseling center offers artificial sunlight lamps to help people from sunnier climes. I may have to take advantage of that this year!

    1. Maybe I need to buy myself an artificial sunlamp! (Probably cheaper just to go to Australia every year haha!)

      I think the whole of northern Europe gets that permacloud as well. It kills me. A month, okay. Two? MAXIMUM. But 5-6 months of grey is just ghastly. And such a shock to the system.

  2. Oh dear. Hope you make it through another winter. Snuggling next to an open fire helps. Personally, I absolutely love autumn and winter! Can’t abide hot weather, so as summer approaches I feel a similar kind of existential angst.

    1. I am sooo not surprised you are an Autumn/Winter lover. I am slowly beginning to appreciate them (Autumn more than Winter) and there are parts of cold weather that are just lovely (fires, hot wine, red wine over white, moorish food, boots, hats, quilt on the couch etc etc) … but in my heart of hearts, I’m a summer person, a beach person, a cold white wine by the pool, a dress and thongs/flip flops person. Really shouldn’t have started that train of thought, when it’s 5 degrees outside and nearly dark pre-5pm.

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