Obscurity on the Land

Obscurity on the Land
Image provided by John Bennett
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jbgoblin/

At 11:48pm on December 21st this year, it will officially be winter above the equator this year, the winter solstice. I find it preposterous that such great lengths would be taken to get the precise minute winter starts. I doubt even weathermen (okay, weather people) care about when, exactly to the minute, winter started, just twelve minutes before midnight. I would think they’d be sleeping, partying, watching a good movie, or reading. Surely they wouldn’t be sitting looking at a clock waiting for the precise minute of the beginning of winter. Why not just round up or down and be done with it. This year, I would say winter starts on December 22nd.

Those who live closer to the equator are probably reveling in the mild temperatures that will eventually give way to blistering heat later on next year. (Those south of the equator are feeling that fever right now.) Those of us further north are experiencing a climate making the days dreary. These are the days when the number of daylight hours are the least.

Depending on your general attitude toward life and your ability to adapt to changes in your surrounding, this time of year can be a psychological tussle. It isn’t so much the cold and damp that plays havoc with some during these bleak cloudy days of the season. It’s the scarcity of utter light. I know that with me it isn’t the lack of sun really. It’s the number of hours of utter darkness that I find myself battling with.

Now that I read these words though, I can’t deny that the increased murkiness of each day does feel oppressive, sometimes to the point of being suffocating. On those days when the sun peeks out, I have to admit, my spirits improve.

Here’s a question for you: Are the winter festivals (even the ones not celebrated anymore) a way the human population decides to ward off all the darkness that comes with winter?

I tried doing a search for this information. If there is any, it’s buried in the crevices of articles loosely related, and therefore, are wearisome to find. Sorry, but as interesting as I obviously find this to be, I don’t have the patience to go digging for the right word or phrase that’s going to get the ball rolling in the quest for the information.

Sometimes I go through episodes of depression. It’s not something to get concerned about, at least so far. It’s just part of the inability I’ve had since my late teenage years. It’s a purely physical affliction of my brain.

During these months of endless shade, this nasty annoyance rears it ugly head more often. Although I can’t actually get rid of the melancholy, I can dilute it. I turn the lights on in the house during the so-called daylight hours. The torch lamp is especially good for this because I can brighten a large room with only one. (Good thing too because I only have the one.) The light is pouring out from a high angle creating almost a natural light effect.

I will sit at a window on the south side of my home when the blues get too bad, and gaze out the window where the natural light is stronger. When the sun is out, this becomes extremely helpful.

The winter months are necessary for much of nature. Sure, around the equator this doesn’t seem to be so. The foliage is of the variety that doesn’t need a time of rest, a time of hibernation. Keeping this in mind, my tolerance of the lightless effect of this season is heightened.

§

Do you handle the darkness of winter well?

“We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure.” — Cesar Chavez

 

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30 Replies to “Obscurity on the Land”

  1. At least you can feel good about the fact that we will have more daylight on Dec 23rd than we did whenever you click the switch to winter. Cold wet dreary days are harder to take than just about any other kind of day, but I’m OK with them. I use a couple of lamps in my office instead of the obnoxious fluorescent overhead lights. I think it gives my space a warmer feel.

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    1. According to whoever in the medical field, it’s the fluorescent lighting that helps with seasonal depression. All the same, I agree with you. The slightly yellow hue is more inviting and cheery to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised if that study was commissioned by Phillips and General Electric. The overhead lights give me a headache. I have them in my family room in the basement, but I put the four fixtures on separate switches so I never have to have the one that’s right over me on.

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  2. Glynis, you might be suffering from sundowning, a syndrome marked by depression, confusion, sadness, and lethargy because of darkness and time of day. I’m not a physician or therapist and can’t diagnose you, but you might want to look into this as a possibility. There are ways to manage the condition that make bearing it less oppressive. I’m sorry you struggle with this debilitating condition and wish you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know the syndrome as ‘Seasonal Depression’ but I’m pretty sure it’s what you’ve stated.. Lack of daylight, cold, expectations of behavior (holiday calibrations), and prone to depression anyway are the more common aspect of it. I’m sure a part of what I’m fighting is this, but another part is that having a stroke effecting the right side means some minor mental health issues. This is because the left side of the brain has been damaged (where rational thinking resided). The only one that has shown up on me is depression. Other stroke patients may have it worst, like being bipolar, for instance.

      Anyhow, one of the way to manage this type of depression is to create your own sunlight within your environment. Exercise and just getting out of the house despite the gloom as much as possible are also recommended.

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      1. I remember you writing that you can only use one hand but I didn’t know why. So sorry you deal with such a difficult situation. I hope your friends and family are there when you need them – much easier to handle trauma with support. I will say the misheberachk for you – a blessing for spiritual and physical health.

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        1. Thank you so much. I’m not Jewish, raised in the Lutheran Church, but since high school, I’ve seemed to have leaned more toward the teachings of the Jewish faith. Could it be because about a third of the kids in my high school were Jewish, and therefore, got the chance to learn a little more than the average Christian? Maybe.

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          1. Many Christians know much more than they realize, Judaism being the foundation of Christianity. Despite some big differences, our core values are the same, and many prayers we say in Hebrew, Christians say in English (or French, or Spanish.)

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            1. The first time someone told me that the Jewish faith was the foundation of the Christian faith was from my mother. I was 11 years old. My response to her was, “Yes, of course. Jesus was Jewish, wasn’t he.” Unfortunately, there are people who think this is a lie.

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  3. I seem to suffer from SAD like symptoms in the summer, as there’s more likelihood of feeling guilty and down for being indoors. There’s something very comforting about a dreich winter (a favourite Scottish word to mean dreary, bleak, cold). I make sure I’m outa bed before sunrise and usually walk Jack just as its getting light. Another 1.5hr walk at midday helps ward off starvation for light and all my windows at home are south facing. We’re having ‘freak’ weather in the UK. Temps are usually in the low single figures, but lately we are enjoying between 13-15C (55-60F). Have you ever tried the lights for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)?

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    1. If you’re referring to the lights especially made for SAD, no, I haven’t tried them. My budget doesn’t allow it. Just as well; with some of my depression being from my disability and, therefore, being truly physical, I don’t think the special lights would help all that much. I’m on an antidepressant, low dosage, and that curbs the dark feelings pretty well along with lights on in the house, getting some natural light, and just getting out.

      If I had a Labrador and didn’t have the mobility issue, I’d be doing what you do, walking twice a day. 😉

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      1. On second thought, the SAD light probably wouldn’t make a difference. I reckon the walking helps immensely, but I’m sorry you’re not able to do that. I always forget you have a disability. I do too, but not as significant as your own

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  4. Like you, I really dislike the fact that the days are shorter with less natural light in the cooler months. Light brightens up the places around us, and I like being able to see without artificial light. No matter how many lights are turned on, nothing beats the light of nature. One of the things I like about winter, though, is the fact that the sun sets earlier – which means I can chase and photograph sunsets earlier in the day.

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    1. I had to look at a map to make certain of how far Australia from the equator. Your opposite on my side is the upper countries of Central America and Mexico, roughly. Your winters are somewhat like my late summers or maybe early autumns as far as how much natural light you get. I could live with that all year long. I’d be able to sleep well at night and have all the daylight I could possibly need.

      I know it’s summer where you are. In fact, your longest day is coming up quick. I hope it isn’t too hot and there aren’t very many brush fires this year for your country.

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  5. I love the winter solstice. I usually go to a ceremony where we sit in darkness and one by one we light our tea candles and state our wishes for the future.
    It’s true that darkness can conjure up notions as fear and being lost but darkness is also a space of rest and where dreams occur.
    Also it’s the shortest day of the year. From then on the days get longer and longer until the summer solstice in June where the pattern is reversed.
    Happy Holidays, Glynis, to you and your family. May they be filled with joy and love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have the feeling of fear or being lost. My body is just craving more light than what is available at the time. During the summer months, I actually like being awake after the sun goes down. I think it’s the feeling of mystery that I like so much.

      Happy Holidays to you too, Carol. 😀

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  6. I completely got side-tracked by your post–thinking about the importance of time. Is it a Western Man invention, that we must be precise to the minute? I remember reading Margaret Meade’s “Letters from the Field”–about her experiences with primitive tribes (‘primitive’ used in the literal sense) and they didn’t use clocks. They said no one had watches and everyone knew when to be where anyway.

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    1. I’m one of those whose usually early, too early sometimes. Do you think having an alarm for those who are perpetually late will really make them be on time? I doubt that very seriously. I think Margaret Meade’s observation is completely accurate. 😉

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  7. I find that I have more depression in the Spring and Summer, here in Georgia. Everything goes dormant, including the grass. I Washington (the state), we had so many evergreens, winter was just the wetter season. I kind of like winters in the South, there are more sunny days that are pleasurable until the spring storm season. I agree with you, winter starts on December 22, but to me it starts when the last of the leaves fall. 🙂

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      1. I’m sure that in Washington the winters are especially dreary because of the overabundance of moisture, therefore clouds. In Colorado (my home state), it’s sometimes wet in winter but usually it’s dry like it is in summer, just cold instead of hot. Colorado has many days of sun in the winter too. Here in Tennessee, the number of sunny days is less, at least for those of us in the mountains (foothills to us westerners 😛 ).

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      1. I enjoyed it, Glynis, thanks. Quiet, of course, but I’d have it no other way. I do love the Christmas lights and decorations and it’s always a good excuse to buy myself things. Unfortunately, this year I needed kitchen appliances… very boring, but grateful. I’m already looking forward to January too

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        1. Yes, when first thinking about kitchen appliances, it’s a boring subject, indeed. Just wait until you want to make the smoothie or make that homemade soup though. All of a sudden the appliance makes your world brighter. 🙂

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