Into the dark

“This is the sad time,” she said. “When you do that.When it’s that time of year again.”

She looked at the coat liner I was fastening into my Barbour. It wasn’t last winter. The one before. It’s been that time of year for a while now. It’s ten days since I saw zero degrees on the car thermometer in a year of strange weather. I had to put a down shirt on in June. I remember everything from that time as if it was fixed under glass, like this bright, clear, still day today, so shining and so cold.

A fine clear winter's day.
A fine clear winter’s day.

I knew what she meant. On the one hand we’d known some years,so we could remember other times when I pressed the brass studs of the liner into my coat, other Springs when I took the liner out again. But she meant the end of the year coming. The quickly shortening days when just not long ago it was light at ten at night, sitting in the summerhouse.

Today it was dark before five o’clock. Soon it will be dark at four thirty. But the end of this year is like every year. I don’t know what it’s going to bring. I said last Christmas I would not be in this house in a year, but this year, that will come true. I don’t know where I will be instead. Everything has seemed moveable, in flux and shifting.

It’s past Samhain, just over four weeks until the shortest day, December the 21st and then the days slowly, slowly start lengthening and long before the winter is over it’s getting light again in the evenings, so you can go for a walk at a reasonable time and soon, even if it’s cold after that, you can walk after work in the evening, with the rooks calling raw on the March wind. A time of paradoxes, just as Midsummer can be the saddest as well as the longest day, the day the year starts to shorten and wither, so slowly you can’t notice it until now, when each day seems to race the one before into the dark, so the shortest day, however dark it is, means that the days after will be longer, brighter. That there is hope, even in the darkest time of the year. That whatever happens, like everything else, the year, the days, won’t be like this forever.   We’ve just got to get through until the shortest day. That’s easy enough, surely. Where will I be? The same place everyone else is, really. Nobody knows.

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