I do not like the darkness so early. I do not like 4pm being akin to 4am. I am not a creature that thrives in endless night. I resent this shortness of daylight, this creeping cold, this devlish dark. It’s obvious why stories about creatures of the night have been spawned in the northern hemisphere – no wonder Vampires stalk the imagination as the dark descends. I am more aware of the Solstice than ever I have been in my life. I am counting down to Mid-winter and looking forward to the painfully slow rise out of the gloom, getting January and February behind us, and then sliding towards Summer.
Summer = Australia. Summer = home. Winter = misery (well at the moment it does – sometimes it means fires and red wine and good books). I am miserable and bleak as we head to Christmas. I am not full of festive cheer. I resent my birthday more than ever (happy birthday to me) as it’s spent in gloomy despair (perhaps an exaggeration, really) at the departure of another not so wonderful year. No, I need to be back where the seasons and the world makes sense.
I think I have some sort of mutated Jet-lag. Despite being in London for seven years now I still struggle with the seasonal difference. I can well sympathise with the early Australian settlers (colonizers, invaders – which ever word you prefer) who found the seasons and climate too strange and longer for home for this ‘civilised and sane’ part of the world. My Jet-lag means I still think it should be the end of the school year, we should be winding down to an easy end of year, getting ready for Christmas and the long summer holidays, spreading over half of December into January and stopping short around Australia Day. I should be thinking about beaches and BBQ’s, Bundy and Coke, iced champagne, swimming in my bay. Not talking about snow for Christmas, and looking for new coats or a Christmas jumper. I am endlessly confused about last year as the school year starts in September and ends in July and so I never know which actual year I’m in. The Oz school year is immensely sensible, really it is!
Yes, the long Northern Summer evenings do compensate, the light til ten is quite lovely – even if it’s not warm enough to make the most of it. I think now, that one of the reasons I love the Northen Territory so much was that the day’s length never changed – sun-up and sun-down was the same time every day of the year. It made sense, there was no disturbance to one’s internal time clocks and moods. It was always warm – well hot, actually, and sometimes wet but the day was invariably 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. Living near the equator made life wonderfully stable and almost predictable.
We are still too many days away from the Winter Solstice, still endlessly falling into darkness. But I’ll mark the day, happy in the knowledge that the darkness will remain but lessen each day and soon it will be bright again, the days will lengthen and suddenly I will feel fine again, human and cheered by the daylight. I guess it tells me I’m not a vampire! (Images courtesy Private Collection)