By Ralph Mellon
This winter, more than any other, for some reason, I seem to have become acutely aware of how the shortage of natural light can affect one’s general outlook.
We all know, of course, it’s an immovable fact of nature – unless we do away with Daylight Saving Time, in which case it would only be slightly movable – that November onwards means gradually fading daylight, lower temperatures and increasingly longer hours of darkness.
Then we’re plunged even deeper into a Stygian blackness through December and January, before we come to now, in mid-February, when we emerge cautiously but thankfully into mornings where the shadows lift slightly earlier.
I’m quite cheered just now by the definite reappearance of a little more daylight earlier in the mornings.
Long may it continue – and at least we can be sure it will for another seven or eight months yet.
Fingers crossed, we’ve endured another reasonably mild winter – we’ve had our share of cold days, to be sure, but not been too bothered by snow – so hopefully now we’re on the home straight before the clocks go back at the end of next month.
But I don’t want to count the chickens, metaphorically speaking, as heavy snowfalls in late February and mid-March have not been unknown. However, I found myself over the last couple of months experiencing exactly all the feelings associated with the cold and the dark that scientists and biologists have known about for decades.
We have less energy because there’s less sunlight. And a desire to just hide oneself away and effectively hibernate, because it is so unrelentingly dark.
Leaving the house in the morning in pitch blackness and returning in an equally unforgiving gloom.
We know it can affect some people quite severely – a realtive of mine was diagnosed with the seasonal affective disorder condition and now lives in the sunny climes of California, so it’s a real threat.
I’ve opted for the easy method of dealing with it – just sit it out and wait three months or so until it gets near the time for the clocks to go forward. Keep the head down and plod through, and the passage of time will carry all before it.
Basically, I’m feeling good about being more illuminated. It doesn’t necessarily make me want to be more active (I wish it did) but there’s a certain reassurance about looking out of the window and not being confronted with inky blackness. Or venturing outside and expecting to be stung instantly by the cold, only to find it feels actually quite mild.
Yes, the passage of time will carry all before it – unfortunately, that also means it will transport us back to winter again, probably, I reckon, some time later this year. But, despite all the discomfort and potential hazards that winter can bring, I reserve an even stronger contempt for another season. Autumn.
Don’t get me started. It’s a dirty, damp, horrible time of year, in addition to the seemingly endless shower of falling leaves.
Redeeming qualities? Pretty colours and attractive scenes, certainly. And...
Er, that’s it.