Now that it’s back to Standard Daylight Time (for a few weeks now), we’re confronted by the shortness of days. When it was still dark 7:30, I was more ready to get up when my alarm went off than I am now, when 7:30 is already light out. And it turns out I have a lot to say about circadian rhythms and assumptions due to seasonal lighting.
Sometimes it’s special to get up before dawn and watch the world come to life. At the bird observatory at the tip of the island, we’d have to get out there a half-hour before dawn to catch the morning birds, active before the heat of the day. I liked driving in early-morning traffic.
In Denmark, where winter days were 7 hours long (8:30 to 3:30; summer nights seeming even shorter), I reveled in the gloaming. So do the Danes: they consume more candles per person than the rest of the world. It’s called “at hygge” – ah hoogeh: being cozy and comfortable. But typically, you hygge with candles in the evening. The morning: get ready for work.
As the day begins these days, my three squirrels come to the door, hoping to see some life on the inside. I’ve got a routine from 7:30 to 9 – after that, it’s up and out or down and in.
Despite what all the productivity people say, in the morning, my brain is not up for deep or creative thought. As for otherwise being on the ball, yes! Mornings are when I prefer having physical work. However, winter has less of that physical work, so mornings enforce some creative space between me and my computer, and I don’t mind that.
Winter also changes my afternoon habit. During the warm six months out of the year, I take my paperwork and go sit in the sun or shade to do it on the back deck, front step/stoop, or anywhere outside! And then, as now in winter, I take my postprandial dip afternoon nap. Some people erroneously think a nap is a bad thing, and when one is busy I can see how some see it as “lazy,” though it’s actually smart. But in winter, if I do have a nap, I try to do it in a patch of sunlight.
Being sequestered for winter is still productive time, especially for thinking and work between me and paper/the computer, and social efforts. It has been, throughout the world, a time of learning and cultural production.