I usually don’t listen to NPR after Marketplace is over. Not that I have anything against Afro-pop, it’s certainly better than the horrid Baroque selection they play during the day on KUAC. Around ten last night, I decided I needed some dishwashing music. This is a task I usually can’t get through without some kind of background noise (usually Seeger Sessions or some old Dylan) but when I powered up the stereo, NPR piped through with some not-too-annoying Christmas music. I shrugged and left in on. We finally put up holiday lights last night, after all. Just as I was finishing the dishes, the DJ signed off with her “favorite Christmas song of all time.” When the drunken country drawl and teeth wrenching steel guitar twang came through, I was suddenly filled with some serious Christmas cheer. It was a live recording of Keen’s “Merry Christmas From The Family,” compete with a stadium full of drunk southerners screaming along with the chorus. It is truly a white trailer-trash classic, and always reminds me that no matter how bland my accent gets, I was born in the Republic of Texas and that doesn’t come out in the wash.

We are headed there to thaw out next week. I am looking forward to the sunshine. When we moved here, I was worried about two things: Cold and Dark. Honestly, the cold hasn’t been that bad. Besides giving you a serious adrenaline rush, -28 (we were expecting -40 by now, Thanks Global Warming) and making you hack like a terminal TB patient when trying to breathe, it is certainly livable. You come inside and park by the heater. Eventually you do stop shivering. Given this early success, I thought the dark would prove no big deal, either. I cheerily posted about the short days and low solar profile over at NFSC back in November. Two weeks ago, though, we stopped getting any direct sunlight in the cabin at all. And then it got overcast. The last two weeks have been a haze of grays and blues. The sun supposedly comes up around eleven. It lights the sky but nothing on the ground, and isn't visible from where we are. It heads down again sometime before three. I could (and can) feel that lack in a thorough and fundamental way that I am still having trouble pinning down. It’s trying to catch your breath after being under water for too long; even with your nose and mouth clear, there is not enough air.

But today is Solstice, the Long Night. The sun will rise at 10.48 and go down again at 2.49. At sunset this evening, everything will turn. It will send us into 21 hours and 19 minutes of night. Tomorrow, the sun will hang above the mountains for nine extra seconds. Saturday will give us twenty nine more. By mid January we will be gaining nearly ten minutes of light every day. There is so much hope in nine seconds.

Thinking about today brought me back to Summer Solstice. We have come so far from that long, rainy day, from watching a perfect sunset, ourselves perched on the rippling back of the Atlantic. We are nearly ten months married. We have put over 10,000 miles on the car. There is now an orange kitten and a line of heavy boot liners drying by the heater. Numbers for take-out Chinese and pizza, the menu of a Thai place we haven’t tried yet, a cup of quarters on the windowsill for laundry. I woke up this morning to discover the door had frozen closed. I woke Peter to break it open so the dog and I could go out.

It is light now, at eleven thirty, the sky pink in perpetual dawn, clouds broken up enough that some baby-blue sky is showing, trees blanketed thick with the snow we got last night. I am glad to fly down to Texas, to laugh with family and eat spectacular Mexican food and be chased by my uncle’s errant cattle. I need the thaw, the long late nights with my sister, the time with friends who have known us longer than the five months we’ve been here. But I will be glad to get back to this life, with all its uncertainties. There will be more light then, after all.


At A Hen's Pace said...

I'm so glad you have a Texas to go to!

My last post talks about the increasing and decreasing of daylight too. Nothing so drastic as you guys, though! I'm glad things are on the upswing for you now.

beholdhowfree said...

beautiful writing. i can't wait to see you here in the lone star state!