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.
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.
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.)