The light in autumn

The light here is different than it was at home.  The summer days are longer, the winter days are shorter.  The angle of the light changes more noticeably throughout the year — in the winter here, even at noon, the sun is not overhead and we get, at best, a kind of weak sunlight that is neither very cheering nor very warming, even on the brightest of days.  In the autumn, the light is beautiful.  It is mostly golden, and has that wonderful “late afternoon” look all day long.  Everything touched by the sunlight looks like it’s glowing, and the trees, already golden, look like they’re on fire when the light catches them.  Sometime in the fall, the sun stops coming in directly through our kitchen window in the afternoons, and in the mornings, it no longer comes through our living room windows.  We have to wait again until spring comes around again to see it streaming across the floor.  As the autumn moves towards winter, we lose the “afternoon” effect of the light and move into a state where it seems to be perpetually early evening — a state which persists throughout the winter.

Just now, it is spring again, and we’ve begun to get our sunlight back.  Sitting in the living room in the mornings, the sun shines directly on our couch now — something it hasn’t done since the fall.  Just a few days ago, I was suddenly blinded by a ray of sunlight coming through the window, and I had a moment of confusion until I remembered that yes, that is normal — we just haven’t seen it for a while.  Spring is here, and we’re finally getting our sunlight back.

Standard Time

We have Daylight Saving Time here in Austria, just like in the US, but it ends a week earlier, so we’re now 5 hours off from Eastern Time, instead of 6 . . . until next week, when we’ll be back at 6 again.  (I apologize, in advance, for anyone I call or text at an inappropriate time back in the States this week.)

Theoretically, this means that we got an extra hour of sleep last night, but since Liam is simultaneously teething and congested with a cold, there was very little sleep to be had around our house last night.  We will, however, be appreciating the shift in hours that the cessation of Daylight Saving Time provides — at least temporarily.  The kids have been sleeping in later and later in the mornings as the sunrise gets later.  This is great — it is a fantastic change from what we were experiencing in June and July:  morning waking times around 5 a.m. — however, since I have a hard time making myself wake a sleeping child, we’ve ended up with some rushed (and late) mornings recently.  Hopefully this will help get the kids up, and Dan to work, on time, more easily.  (For a while, at least.)

I can tell, though, after just one day of this schedule, that the evenings are going to take some getting used to.  By 4:30 today, dusk was starting to settle and it was truly dark by about 5:15.  For trick or treating tomorrow, it’ll be perfect — nice and dark before we even go out.  But dusk at 4:30 in October feels a little ominous — we have nearly 2 months of decreasing sunlight ahead of us.  It’s already noticeably different than what I’m used to.  The light here is beautiful — it’s like having morning or afternoon sun all day long.  The sun is never quite overhead — “high” noon really isn’t.

Soon, we’ll be getting up and leaving the house in the dark;  often coming home in the dark, as well.  As we move further into winter at this latitude, I know that each moment of sunlight will become increasingly precious to us.  We’ll be looking forward to the days of 5 a.m. sunrises very soon.

The light is changing

I was outside this evening, around 6:00, and everything looked just a little bit off . . . like when it’s about to storm, but it wasn’t.  The sunlight was different — it was subtler.  Instead of bathing everything in bright light, it was just subdued enough to highlight and illuminate instead.

Fall is coming.  It’s still July.  I think we may have a long, dark winter ahead of us.  I see a time, in my very near future, where I am kicking myself and eating every word I said about the long, hot days we’ve had so far.

On the plus side, the kids are sleeping later, and we’re getting them to bed earlier.  And I love the fall, so if what we get is a long, drawn out period of beautiful light, warm days and cool nights, that would be absolutely fantastic.  Today was absolutely beautiful — it was about 70 degrees as a high, and very windy — I actually ordered a hot tea at Starbucks and drank it inside, because it was too cold and windy outside for me to really enjoy myself (although I did try for about 20 minutes).

It’s JULY.  Oh, dear.

The longest day

5:03 a.m.

5:03 a.m.

I woke up this morning, as I often do, to the sounds of one of my little ones awake, ready to start the day, and in need of liberation from his crib.  Dan usually gets up with the boys in the morning, but he was groggy to the point of complete incomprehensibility, so I went for it.  The sun was up, and I was ready to start my day — but why, oh why, was I so tired?  Well, partly, because it was quarter of five in the morning.  Quarter ’til five, and daylight.  Crazy.

Benjamin was awake, but it didn’t take much to convince him to go back to sleep (it was, after all, two hours before he usually gets up, as well).  I had a tough time getting back to sleep, though, and before I knew it, it was quarter of seven (that’s more like it) and time to actually start the day.

Other than being hot and exhausted, we had a good day, and celebrated by inaugurating our new inflatable “paddling pool” for our terrace.  (I know that’ll come in handy tomorrow when it’s supposed to be above 90 here — and that’s the temperature down on the street, not in our relatively closed up attic apartment.)

It is summer now.  Although I understand why this is the first day of summer, from an astronomical perspective, it never ceases to astound me that the longest day of the year should come so early in what we experience as summer.  July and August still stretch stickily out ahead of us, but the days begin to shorten now.  It will begin to be easier to sleep a little later in the morning, and to get the kids in bed at a reasonable hour in the evening (it’s after 10:00 here and not yet quite dark).

I know I’ll regret these words in November and January, but right now, I’m looking forward to just a little less daylight tomorrow.  Sleep is lovely and precious.