Thursday, October 25, 2018


The snow that turned the yard – briefly – bright white earlier this week was an anticipatory antidote to a day that started dreary, dark, and drizzly. This time of year, I often have to force myself to take a deep breath and remember winter is – well, if not short, not forever.

Don’t get me wrong: I love winter. I love snow. I love being outside on skis or snowshoes or just on my porch, gazing up at the winter-bright stars.

Seasons, juxtaposed.
I just don’t like the darkness. Or this barren stretch of between – between leaf fall and snow fall, between soccer season and ski season, between vividly colorful fall and glistening winter wonderland.

The dimness that seeps into early mornings near the end of summer serves as a rude reminder of the long darkness to come. I am distracted at first, however, by the start of school and all the hustle that happens as I shift my schedule from summer activities to school year busyness. I can ignore the gradual growing of darkness – until the morning when I have to use the light on my phone to safely navigate down the hallway, past doorways behind which sleeping children lie, and into the dark kitchen where my coffee maker awaits.

I can even ignore the light disappearing from the other end of the day, which becomes most notable around the end of soccer season. In mid-September, there is still considerable daylight after practice ends. By the middle of October, we are driving home at dusk. And now, without the distraction of planning practices and rehashing games just played, I am suddenly aware of how short the days are becoming.

We haven’t even made it to the end of Daylight Savings Time yet, and already dusk comes so early that I feel as if we should be eating dinner at 5 and going to bed at 7.

We have eight more weeks of shrinking light until the Winter Solstice. It’s no wonder ancient people planned elaborate pagan rituals around the day when, finally, light begins again to lengthen. And no wonder that we more modern humans plan a slew of celebratory events between now and the end of December – Halloween and Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. They all serve as good distractions in these dark days – something to look forward to and busy ourselves preparing for.

Tuesday this week, the night before it snowed, the sun set in a golden glow of that only comes with Fall. The day’s last light reflected off retreating rain clouds and glanced across a few yellow leaves still clinging to tree branches to set the landscape to shimmering amber.

It was a reminder that as the length of daylight diminishes, it also becomes more precious. And the next morning’s snow reminded me that although the winter days ahead will surely be dark, if we are lucky, they will also be white. 

Original content by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul, posted to her blog, Writings From a Full Life. This essay also appears as Meghan's Close to Home column in the October 26, 2018 issue of the Littleton Record.

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