Posted tagged ‘early darkness’

“Winter slithers, autumn strolls, summer swims, spring skips.”

November 7, 2017

The sun is hiding. It was here earlier but it’s gone now. Today is chillier than it has been, but not chilly enough for the heat to be triggered. The clouds are white, and there is barely a breeze, but I’ll take the clouds rather than the usual cold of November.

When I was a kid, I rode my bike all year. Only the snow stopped me. The roads were seldom plowed all the way down to street so it was too slippery for bike wheels. It was sort of the same when I was walking to and from school. The sidewalks were shoveled by the people who lived beside them, not the town, so we’d hit parts which had never seen a shovel. Rather than get all snowy and wet, we’d move to the road and walk in the ruts. Sometimes we’d have to walk toe to heel because the ruts were so narrow. Sometimes we’d fall into the snow. We always laughed.

I really didn’t mind school all that much in the winter, but I really minded it in late spring and fall when the days were still warm and bright. All I could think of was I should be outside playing or riding my bike; instead, the best weather was being wasted, and a taste of the day at recess only made it worse. All I could do each school day was watch through my classroom windows as warm days withered away. We played when we got home from school but darkness came early, and the street lights were on by four. My mother didn’t care what time it was. She went with the street light curfew.

My town had so many trees bordering the streets and sidewalks that fallen leaves were everywhere. The ones on lawns were cleared and burned, but the rest sat in gutters or around tree trunks. Yellow and orange are the colors of fall to me.

Sometimes I still think of all the other seasons in colors. Spring is green, all different, varied greens. Summer is all colors especially reds and yellows, pinks and purples as the gardens come to life. Winter is white when it snows, and red and green at Christmas, but the rest of winter is mostly brown and grey. We’re almost there now.

“I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark; I dont. I dont! I dont hate it! I dont hate it!”

January 10, 2017

Last night was bitterly cold. It was 7˚. Everything which had melted froze again. My front step was so icy I was afraid to walk on it. I thought it was an accident waiting to happen, but it didn’t. I got in and out of the house without incident. Gracie slides on the last couple of deck steps. They have been de-iced several times as have the front steps. Today is currently 36˚, the predicted low. The high temperature will be 40˚. Tomorrow could hit 50˚. My whole world will melt.

My outside Christmas lights are still connected and glow every night. They are beautiful under the layer of snow. The star on the fence is my favorite. It doesn’t matter if there are clouds, a bright star always shines. When I went out last night early in the evening, I saw many houses still had their nights lit. They looked beautiful.

We have added over 20 minutes of light since the Winter Solstice. Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 12th; the rest of the team reports February 16th. Despite snow and cold, the signs are evident. We will have a spring!!

When I was a kid, I never really took notice of the seasons as much as the events of each season. This stretch from New Year’s Day to February vacation seemed to take forever. Nothing happened. It was as close to a rut as any kid gets. If we wanted to play outside after school, we’d have maybe an hour, maybe less, before it got dark. Putting on layers, boots, hats and mittens seemed far too much work for such a short time. If there was no snow, I’d haul my bike out of the cellar then put it back when I had to go inside the house. That was a lot of work for a short time as it took some wrangling to get the bike out of the cellar because of the concrete wall right across from the cellar door. I had to put the bike on end to get it out of the cellar. In summer I’d leave the bike in the yard, but in winter it went back inside.

My mother used to have to reach up into the arms of our winter coats to pull down our shirtsleeves by the cuffs. She was thrilled when we finally learned to hold on to our cuffs when she’d put on our coats. I was watching TV the other day, and I saw a character hold on to his cuffs when he put on his topcoat. I had to chuckle. His mother must have been thrilled.

It is sad. Tonight President Obama is making his farewell address. I will miss him.

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”

November 17, 2015

I seem to be apologizing every day for the lateness of the hour. This morning I awoke close to lunch time. It was just one of those nights, fitful and restless. I’m sure Gracie was annoyed by my moving around. Her head was on the other pillow when I woke up which, I suspect, minimized her discomfit from my moving all around. Fern was lying right beside my legs. I do remember her meowing at me during the night as I wasn’t sleeping deeply. I also remember ignoring her.

The hunt for Gracie’s Christmas digs continues. I am not having a whole lot of success. One kennel told me to call back today. I’m hoping they have space. (SUCCESS!!!!!!-Gracie will be staying at that kennel!!!!)

Duke, the boxer of my childhood, was the most stubborn of dogs. Usually he came on vacation with us, but I remember one time my grandparents took care of him while we were away. I’m sure Duke wasn’t all that thrilled as they weren’t animal people; in fact, they weren’t people people either (I know this wording sounds odd, but I tried several different versions, and this one despite the repetitive words was the best). Anyway, they’d let Duke outside, no leash laws back then, and he’d take off and go home. My grandfather had to fetch him several times which made my grandfather annoyed which eventually morphed into angry. When we went to pick Duke up, my grandfather told my Dad never again would he dog sit. I think Duke was relieved.

Every day is colder now. It gets dark far too early. The trees look naked without their leaves, and I can again see my neighbor’s houses through the branches of the trees. The sun slants a different way than in summer. I’ve added socks do my daily ensemble. There’s no denying it now. The season has irrevocably changed.


“From the cradle to the coffin underwear comes first.”

November 1, 2015

This morning it sprinkled a bit, and though it has stopped, the clouds remain. Today is chilly and dreary. When I look out my windows, I see more and more dead leaves hanging from the oak trees. A small tree with some red leaves is all I have left of the colors of fall. Hunker down time is nearer and nearer.

Night has begun encroaching. With the change in time, with the end of daylight saving, it will come earlier. When I was a kid, I didn’t understand the whole idea, but I didn’t like it. My afternoon play time was less because the street lights came on earlier. I thought that was a cheat somehow, a parental ploy to get us to bed earlier.

We always had November 1st off from school because it was a holy day of obligation. That was one of the perks of attending a Catholic school. We had to go to mass then the whole day was ours. Today is the holy day and a Sunday. You get to knock off two obligations at the same time.

Clean underwear was always a big thing with mothers. I never understood why because even without the possibility of an accident and eternal embarrassment to my mother I always wore clean underwear. I mean really who’d want to wear dirty underwear? My mother would have been better served warning me to wear underwear without holes. I had a theory that socks with holes and underwear with holes were fine because nobody saw them excluding any accidents of course. I still adhere to that theory but mostly with wearing socks with holes. I turn over the top of the socks so my toes won’t poke through. A few times I tried to darn the socks but instead I got these huge lumps which hurt with shoes on. I went back to folding. When I went to Ghana, I bought enough new underwear for every day so I wouldn’t have to wash any. I have so much now I throw away the ones with holes or loose elastics. My mother would be so proud.

“The light teaches you to convert life into a festive promenade.”

December 21, 2014

The Winter Solstice is official at 6:03 EST tonight, the longest night and the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. We are moving back to the light.

It always seemed unfair somehow when darkness came so early. We had the street light curfew so winter afternoons for playing outside were short, and if it was cold or snowy or windy, we sometimes didn’t go out at all. We played games, watched TV, did our homework and read. The afternoons felt endless. Supper always seemed to be late, deeper into the early evening, but it wasn’t. The early darkness fooled us.

Today is the same as yesterday, a grey day, and it’s cold so I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere. The inside Christmas lights are lit so the house looks bright. Multi-colored lights are my favorites for the tree though I do put a strand of white lights around the trunk, starlights in the middle of the tree. My window lights are white candles, bright white candles, which shine in a circle of light above the bulbs.

It is easy to create beauty this time of year. The tree is in my living room in the same spot it always is. Sometimes I stand at the edge of the room just to look at it. I’m always taken by how lovely it looks, a bit of bias I suspect. My dining room is lit by the window candles and by the small tree in the corner. The table runner is bright red and green. The centerpiece is a tree made of blocks. Each row is a word or phrase spelled out in the blocks. All of them have to do with Christmas. It was once my mother’s. My kitchen has a red pepper bunch of lights and a string of scallop shell lights. I never mind going from room to room to turn them on. Their light is welcome especially tonight.

“Even in the familiar there can be surprise and wonder.”

November 8, 2013

Late, late start to Coffee this morning as I went out to breakfast down Cape then had one more errand to do. The breakfast is a once a month get-together of women with whom I’ve worked who are now retired. Sometimes we are many. Today we were few. It doesn’t really matter the number. It is still the chatting, not the eating, which is the best part.

I went home on the Mid-Cape Highway, Route 6, an anachronism of one lane in each direction. A slow car always has a line stretching behind it because that part of the road is a no passing zone. The two lanes are separated by permanent cones down the middle of the road. Being impatient doesn’t help. I just go with the flow. Today as I drove I noticed the scrub oak trees along the roadside were either covered in faded red leaves or dead, brown ones. Soon enough the trees will be bare.

The day is sunny. I noticed in the backyard the sunlight is slanted through the trees in an odd direction as the Earth makes its autumn move. Darkness comes so very early now. The house was cold when I woke up, and I just wanted to nestle under the comforter for a bit longer. Gracie didn’t mind so she stayed cozy beside me. Fern, on the other side, was just as cozy. All of us are into creature comforts.

When I fill out a form on-line, I often have to include my date of birth. The month and date are quickly found, but I have to scroll way down the list to find the year. That always surprises me even though it shouldn’t.

I buy shoes on-line, and they have always fit, but I do miss that big metal sizer they used in shoe stores. When I was a kid, I had to stand up while the shoe-man measured the size and width of my feet. They were always longer than the last time. That never surprised my mother. Sometimes we outgrew the shoes before they wore out.

I was not a fan of many vegetables when I was young. I loved peas and corn and potatoes. Mostly we ate canned vegetables back then except for corn in the summer. As I got older, my list of vegetables expanded, and I ate them fresh. I always believed they were the healthiest. Come to find out they may not be based on the distance from field to grocery store. Farm stands probably have the best fresh vegetables, but grocery stores don’t. Frozen and even canned vegetables may have more nutrients than fresh. That surprises me.

I like surprises, even in vegetables.

The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.”

September 24, 2012

It was dark when I woke up, but the sky has brightened with morning. The papers were just delivered. Gracie is sleeping on the couch. She doesn’t like early mornings. I’m starting to dislike them myself.

A few errands need to be done today, and I want to stop at the farm stand for those mums, a couple of pumpkins and some apple cider. I love the colors of autumn, and I love them in the garden best of all.

Carving pumpkins was a Saturday event. My mother would put newspapers on the kitchen table, and she’d do the cutting of the pumpkin. Our job was to clean out the guts. We never thought cleaning the guts was gross. To us, it was the perfect kid job. We’d reach in and get a handful of pumpkin insides mixed with seeds, make appropriate noises and pretend to toss the guts at each other. I remember strands of pumpkin guts hanging from my hand and that would always send us into peals of loud laughter. It’s a kid thing.

I know winter is waiting its turn, but I can’t help but love these crisp mornings. The air smells fresh and the humidity is gone. On the morning of the first frost, I love to walk across the white topped grass and hear the crunch of my footsteps, but I’m not wishing for that frost to come too soon. I’m perfectly willing to wait.

The sun still warms the day but casts shadows different than the summer sun. The leaves are dappled, no longer bright with  morning sunlight. The afternoons die quickly. I don’t guess the right time anymore. I always think it later than it is. My mind still has its summer setting.

“You need not rest your reputation on the dinners you give.”

November 4, 2011

Dreary days have come to be the norm. Today is overcast and dark. When I woke up, the bedroom clock was out, but the bedroom light worked. The bathroom light didn’t. I left the light switch in the bathroom on so I could see without climbing the stairs if I had solved the problem then went to the cellar to the circuit box and turned the general lights back and forth. I walked back up to the bottom of the third floor stairs and lo and behold the lights were back on.

Nothing is on the agenda today or tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. It seems I am settling into my winter doldrums. Life gets slower, and I am generally content to read and do little or nothing. For the whole month, I have 2 meetings, both of which are on the same day, and a doctor’s appointment at the end of the month. The excitement is nearly overwhelming.

When I was a kid, we didn’t do much all winter during the week. We went to school, came home, put on our play clothes, and, if we wouldn’t freeze, we’d go out for a while before it got dark, but darkness came early, around 4 or 4:30. We’d come in and plunk ourselves in front of the TV. Back then there was no guilt about kids and TV time. My mother would make dinner, and she was glad we were otherwise occupied.

Monday to Thursday dinners seldom varied from a meat, mashed potatoes and a vegetable, but on Fridays, when we couldn’t eat meat, my mother got more creative. Fish sticks were sometimes meatless offerings, and my mother usually served them with frozen French fries baked in the oven. I can still see her opening the packages and pulling the single French fries and fish sticks apart from the frozen piles.

The best Friday dinners were when we had English muffin pizzas or fried dough slattered with butter and a sprinkle of salt. The fried dough dinner was our favorite of them all. My mother just couldn’t keep up with the demand. We’d all hang around waiting our turn for that brown, beautiful dough hot from the frying pan. Puddles of  butter filled each crevice, and we had to be careful or it would drip on our hands and follow gravity down to our arms. The salt glinted in the light.

I can’t imagine anything unhealthier, but I know, to us, that a fried dough dinner deserved a celebration with a band and a small parade.

“My homework was not stolen by a one-armed man”

October 23, 2011

The nights are chilly, afghan chilly, animals right beside me chilly. I can barely move in bed as they are huddled beside me, and it isn’t even winter yet. The house was around 65° when I woke up this morning which meant a sweatshirt and warm slippers. The sandals have been put way back in the closet.

The day started out sunny but has since become cloudy and dark and is supposed to stay this way. It’s 56°, tolerable but sad. It means no open windows and wearing socks and shoes. I hate that it gets dark so early in the afternoon now. That mole feeling which comes with winter is getting stronger.

When we were kids, early darkness this time of year left little time to play outside after school. Besides, it was too cold for the usual games except for an occasional bike ride. The walk to and from school and recess were about the only physical activities we had until snow and ice gave us more options. I don’t remember minding having to stay inside as we had plenty of games, and I had my books to keep me company. Late in the afternoon the TV went on, and we’d sit on the carpet close to the set and watch our favorite programs on the flickering black and white screen. Only my mother calling us to dinner pulled us away.

I was the one who always did her homework right away. I’d sit at the kitchen table with my papers and do mostly English, religion, spelling or math. We almost never brought home books except for our catechism, which we had bought. I think the nuns were afraid we’d lose the other books and money was hard to come by to replace lost or damaged books. Most times we brought home worksheets with math problems, spellings lists or fill in the blanks with the right pronoun, country or whatever else was asked for. For some reason the coin sheet jumps out of my memory drawer, and I remember black and white pictures of coins. For homework we had to add or subtract them from the total number of coins. Religion homework was always memorize something. Where is God? God is everywhere was on the first page of one of my catechisms. My favorite picture was of the three milk bottles. One was white for sinless, one was half white and half black for venial sins and the last was all black for mortal sins. I wonder what they do now. You can’t see through cartons.

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