The dark season

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“When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

A cold front is moving through as I write this. There is thunder and lightning, wind, and rain and the temperature has dropped several degrees in the past half hour. I’m sitting in our little cabin watching the leaves fall and listening to the plink plink of raindrops on the metal roof. That fine stretch of mild and sunny fall days appears to be over and we are being transported rather ceremoniously into the dark season. Once we go back to standard time in a couple of weeks, the darkness will be a constant. We’ll only ever be a few hours from blackness and even during the middle of the day, the sun will be feeble and low on the horizon. This dark and stormy afternoon is foreshadowing many dark days to come.

I feel this darkness as a physical sensation. It weighs me down until late January, when at last, glimpses of light return. I do my best to get outside every day in the winter; to make sure I soak up every bit of light there is and sometimes, when it is clear and cold, and the light is reflecting off snow and ice, to feel relief. Even when it is snowy, or windy, or freezing rain, I like to get out in it, for a while at least, if only to appreciate the warmth inside afterwards. When I worked in an office, I used to have to get out into the weather everyday just to feel alive.

One of the pleasures of heating with wood, is that a fire provides not only heat but light as well, and the warm glow of a wood fire is as perfect an antidote to a cold night as there can be. We have a wood stove in our living room and one in the tiny cabin in our woods and they both contribute to my sanity throughout the winter.

The coming dark season does rather seem like a fine excuse to think darker thoughts and eat darker chocolate, and I plan to do both.

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