O’Dark Thirty

I’ve been in Seattle for two years now, and I’d like to think I’m adapting well. But as Autumn establishes itself, I start to feel as if I’m in a foreign country. I suspect that will always be the case.

Not since I lived in the Netherlands have I experienced such extreme changes in daylight from one season to the next. Here in the summer, you get about 16 hours of daylight, and in the winter you get about 8 ½ hours. Back in Florida there was only a 4 hour sunlight difference from summer to winter, and for the most part it remained miserably hot, so you tried to avoid the sun anyway.

I am constantly disconcerted by the winters here, when it’s pitch black by 5 p.m. To me, darkness means it’s later in the evening.  So why am I not tired? “Oh… it’s not even dinner time yet.”

And in the summer, I constantly think I’ve overslept when I hear the birds chirping and see bright light at 5 a.m. Whose brilliant idea was that? What’s wrong with you people???

Too, it feels like I’m working a completely different schedule when I come to and/or leave work in the dark when this was not the case a few short weeks ago.

The overall vibe here is very different from season to season. In the winter, people seem to get subdued. There’s a lot more silence and a lot less socializing. People seem to hibernate. The energy in this city is a lot lower at this time of year.

I have to admit, though, it makes me much more aware of the passage of time. It also makes me more appreciative of the sunlight when I actually see it, and the flowers that bloom and the vegetables that grow. I used to take those things for granted. Never again.

And Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. That crisp crackle in the air gives me a burst of energy that seems to elude the average Seattleite. I love the colors that nature puts forth, like the last hurrah before a colorless winter.

Still, just when I think I’ve gotten used to this place, another month rolls around, with a different feel, and it’s like I’m back to square one. I can well imagine what it would be like to live in Alaska, with its days of darkness. I can imagine it, but I sure wouldn’t want to live through it. Everything is relative.


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8 thoughts on “O’Dark Thirty

  1. I was born here in Seattle and I am always fascinated by others’ reactions to the extremes of the seasonal light variations, as you have expressed. I think of the dark time of year as a time of roots growing beneath the surface, to burst forth with creativity at a later season. One of the most creative, arts-oriented cultures is that of Iceland and something similar may be going on there — maybe turning to inward resources to provide the color and music lacking in gray skies.

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