Tuesday, October 17, 2023

The Darkening Days

It’s 7am and the darkness that greeted me at 6 is now light enough to see the trees out the window. The world is born again anew and me with the great privilege and possibility of awakening with it. 


At 7pm last night, the table was set for dinner and the darkening evening suggested that it’s that time of year to light the candles. To settle into the increasingly longer night and close the day with the usual blend of dinner, some reading, the serial TV ritual. 


We seem to be exactly at the midpoint of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, with seven as the magic number. Some perfectly balanced schedule of activity and repose. Followed by the incremental changes toward the shortest day and longest night of the Solstice, when our Ancestors performed rituals to both petition the light to return and align themselves with the seasonal changes. 


I have many friends in Finland and often think about how they survive the winters. A few days ago, I fulfilled a little bucket list hope to be up north in Lappland on the summer solstice and experience days when the sun never set. Next item on the list is to go there on the winter solstice when it barely rises. But just for a few days! Can’t imagine how I’d cope with an entire winter.


An American friend did spend the winter in Finland and reported that in January, when she passed neighbors in the hall of her apartment building and greeted them, they looked down, never made eye contact or said a word. By March, they might look up with a barely perceptible nod. In April, a quick hello. In May, perhaps a four-word “Hello. How are you?”

By June, it was a full-throttle, warm-hearted, eye-contact conversation. They were wholly aligned with the seasonal changes, their inner light in exact correspondence to the outer light. I find that fascinating.

But I’m happy to spend winters in San Francisco, where the magnolia trees already bloom in January and the plums in February. Meanwhile, it’s the time to go up and down on the perfectly balanced teeter-totter of 12-hour days. Wheee!

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