This past weekend we changed from summer to winter time. Practically speaking this means that it gets light earlier in the morning, but the darkness descends around four in the afternoon. So even though it is dark when I get up, by the time I cycle off to work it is light. The homeward journey, at the end of the day, is in darkness. There are still two months left till the shortest day of the year. In a few more weeks it will be dark at both ends of the day, as the light contracts.
This darkness is part of the yearly cycle for Scandinavians, and the further north you go, the longer and deeper it becomes. Far up beyond the Arctic Circle the sun never rises above the horizon for part of the year. It is very cosy sitting beside the fire in the evenings, as I am doing now, but it is bitter outside. Winter depression is not at all unusual – many struggle. I am reminded of the poems of GM Hopkins that I learnt at school:
I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.