The Darkest Days
All throughout Autumn, the locals repeatedly warned me, a newcomer, about winter on the North Coast. These warnings were as ominous as they were vague. Just you wait till winter... It will get bad... Stay the winter and see if you still "like it" here!...
Now that the solstice is coming, I am reminded that winter is in full swing. And I get occasional inquiries into the progress of my opinion. On the day of a particularly bad storm, or a drastic temperature drop, someone will inevitably ask: "And how do you like it here now, eh?" - studying my wind-burned face with a hint of glee.
Granted, living here is not without challenges. The winter cold feels far worse than the temperature readings suggest, due to the nasty strain of dampness particular to these parts. The winds get so powerful, it can be difficult to walk, let alone ride a bike. Visibility can grow poor - and rapidly - due to sudden onset fog and flurries. While food is very affordable here, heating is problematically expensive and needs to be thought through carefully. None of this has put me off so far; I adjust. On non-windy, or mildly windy days, I try to get all my long-distance errands done. I have figured out how to get things delivered, if need be. Working from home, I try to time my work so that I'm out of the house in daytime and work mostly early morning and after dark - as its more efficient to heat the house that way.
Daytime lasts until about 4pm these days. Except on those badly overcast days when the sun never really comes out, and the 24 hour period is split into a state of complete darkness and semi-darkness. Those days have not been infrequent as of late. In fact today was one of them. Allowing myself to be pushed about by erratic gusts of wind, I cycled to the little farm shop down the road after riding a mildly hilly loop along the base of the mountain for purely recreational purposes. The light at 10:30am looked no different than the light at 3:30pm, all diffuse and veiled and, if you want to be unkind about it, dirty-dishwater-like. It is the sort of thing that I suppose should feel depressing, but isn't - instead awaking a part of me that is asleep in more overtly cheerful environs and inspiring a flurry of creative and productive activity.
The darkest days are here, and they are okay. I have bikes to ride and work to do and food to eat and logs to burn and people to talk to and animals to pet. The Winter Solstice is tomorrow and it will be the shortest day yet. Suddenly I feel like a bike ride to celebrate. Who else is planning a Solstice Ride?