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 when my alarm went off at 7:30, I was more ready to go than I am now, when 7:30 is already bright. Sometimes – not every single day, but most – it’s special to get up before dawn and watch the world come to life. At the bird observatory, we’d have to get out there to the tip of the island a half-hour before dawn, and I liked moving through early-morning traffic. And as the day begins, my three squirrels come to the door, hoping to see some life on the inside, too. In Denmark, where winter days were 7 hours long (8:30 to 3:30; summer nights seeming even shorter), I revelled 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.

In the mornings, my brain is not up for deep thought (she says as she writes this at twenty after 8 o’clock, having slept on it the night before) or for being on the ball, so that is when I prefer having physical work. Winter has less physical work, so it changes that tendency. Winter also changes my afternoon habit, where six months out of the year I take my reading and whatever paperwork I can muster and sit in the sun or shade to do it (back deck, front step/stoop, doesn’t matter: outside! My parents raised me well in that regard). Whatever the time of year, when I take my afternoon nap – 20 minutes when I get that postprandial dip, which some people erroneously think is a bad thing – I do it in a patch of sunlight. Being sequestered for winter is when I do the most cuddling up to the computer, when in other seasons, I can’t get that game on until the sun is on its way down. Winter is, therefore, productive time, and it has been throughout the world a time of cultural production.