We are tipping into the dark side. This time of year, daylight saving hours make no sense at all but it’s what I get for chosing to live at the bottom of the world. Each night, it seems I am reaching for the light switch a few minutes earlier than the night before. “Look at that,” we say in the manner of the aged, “Dark at eight.” Both our sons and their families live close to the equator where darkness drops like a fallen cloud before they’ve had their evening meal. It pushes them to do the exciting, outdoor part of life in the daylight, then draws the family together in the dark. But even that has it’s downside. When mornings arrive they are brash and bold and far too early. I like it long on both ends.
This year, I’m travelling away from the closing in of the nights – at least for a few weeks. I’ve won a scholarship from the RSA to do research in England on the journey taken by our wounded WW1 soldiers. I was as surprised as anyone but I look forward to the way it will change my slow descent into winter. When I come back to New Zealand at the end of April it will be to long, dark nights and cold days. I am not, as one of my close friends once declared herself to be, “a lover of winter”, but it does have some things going for it. The garden is dormant and the guilt for neglecting it, pushed aside. There are mad dashes from the warm car to brightly lit foyers for plays and films. Every choice seems to matter. The best thing of all is that there is time. Time to cook long, slow meals; to plan the weeks ahead in a reasonable expectation that nothing will change, and to escape into my hole in the wall office and be somewhere else.