I think it’s the dark of winter that gets to people, more so than the cold. At a latitude as far north as Vienna, the days are short and the sunlight we get is very indirect — walking to pick up B from school today, at noon, the sun was at an angle that makes me think of late afternoon. The evening comes early. Even now, with over a month of shortening days to come, my boys typically wake from their naps in the dark of the evening, groggy and a little disoriented. Benjamin gets up for school in the dark, and he wakes from his nap in the dark, so he seems to be having trouble separating nap time from bed time — he often wakes from his nap asking me if it’s time to go to school. (His body isn’t fooled, though, as evidenced by the fact that he sleeps for 10 hours at night and 2 during the day.)I love the symbolism and ritual of using light, in the winter, to push back the darkness, to bring brightness into the night. We do it at Halloween with jack-o-lanterns, and we do it at Christmas with candles in the windows and lights on our trees. Vienna is already using its lights to push back on the darkness. The horse drawn carriages still roll down the streets, illuminated by lanterns. The cafe windows all glow with warm coziness. And the lights of the Christmas decorations have begun to be turned on. The huge Christmas trees at the markets are lit with white lights, and on one street near our house, huge, cylindrical chandeliers of lights have been hung.
I like winter. I’m not bothered by the dark or the cold. But part of the reason I’m not bothered, part of the reason I like this season so much, is that we find so much to enjoy in defying the dark and the cold. I love the warmth and the light, the coziness and the brightness, of this season. Vienna is full of light right now, and the depth of the darkness around us makes it all the more wonderful.