Daylight savings time ended last week and all of a sudden it got cold, to go along with our new darkness.
Sunset at 4:35? We may be living in an age of hyperbole, but doesn’t it seem like the earliest sunset ever?
It’s not, of course. We’ll lose about 10 more minutes of afternoon light between now and the equinox, when it will slowly start building back again. But we are in the darkest days of the year.
Everyone at my house — animal and human — is going to bed earlier because it’s just so dark. Nine o’clock feels like midnight.
I’m still getting up at the same time, which means the clock is reading 4-something instead of 5-something. But I feel like I need to pad my day on the front end since the after-I-get-home-from-work part of the day seems like bedtime.
Everyone’s complaining, but there are some advantages. I get the starry sky on my morning walks, and get to see the sunrise too. I catch the sunset before I leave work, although it’s dark by the time I get home.
I have to wait for weekends to spend stretches of time outdoors. In the woods, some of the trees are still hanging on to their full array of leaves, some are half bald, and some are down to just branches and twigs.
I stop to listen to the acorns and pine cones falling and the dry leaves muttering in the wind. The geese are honking overhead as they work their way out of town.
Every season has its treasures — and its detractors. Right now, we’re in that unfortunate mix of mud and cold and darkness that makes most of my family kind of cranky. There’s a lot of work to do, but everyone feels like hibernating.
Then midweek some flakes started falling from the sky. It didn’t amount to anything, other than to get everyone in town asking everyone else, “Are you ready for the snow?” and then talking about hating winter or loving winter, skiing versus escaping to the South, firewood and heating bills.
“Winter is a nice concept,” my daughter says, “but it’s too long. February is a mistake.”
Her brother feels pretty much the same. The family dad finds little to like about the season — until about February, when he can feel the sun coming back and the days really lengthening.
For the record, despite my professed love of all weather and all seasons, I am not ready for the snow. It’s not a judgment or a change of heart. I’m just not prepared.
The garden hasn’t been properly put to bed, the summer goat fences are still in the front yard and we need to figure out winter fencing in the back. Summer fencing for goats is tough enough, since they are fine jumpers. It’s even trickier to fence them in winter, when snow piles higher and higher and the fences stay exactly the same height.
At least they’ve all grown their winter coats and are parading around happily in the extra layers of fur.
They say they are ready.
That’s more than I can say for the rest of us. I have no idea where I put our winter coats last spring, and whether any of us still have nonleaking boots. The gloves, hats and scarves are all where they belong, anyway. But I’m going to have to ask the snow to hold off for a few more weeks.
I have a lot to do and only a few hours of daylight to do it in.
Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on Nov. 26. Reach Margaret Hartley at firstname.lastname@example.org or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.