December 13, 2005

A note from Madison.

At 4 p.m., it was already getting dark here today. Now, at 5, it's nearly completely dark. I'm sitting here in the dark, looking out at my big, bare oak tree. (Did I ever tell you my oak tree is named Agatha?) Next to me is my tiny Christmas tree. I deliberately bought the tiniest tree on the lot. I paid less than $20 for it! It's lit up now and providing the only light in the room other than the computer screen and the frozen-framed TV, stuck somewhere in the middle of "The Daily Show." We are supposed to get a big snow storm tonight, but nothing's happening yet. I have about 6 important tasks to get done very soon, and the early darkness makes me feel the day is shot way too early. My relationship with deadlines has changed over the years, and now I feel we are much too close -- and yet I cannot break away. I'm in a death spiral with deadlines. Maybe I could do all 6 things in one day if I felt the fear of death breathing down my neck heavily enough. But, for now, there's that strange, deep gray of the sky and the frozen TV show and the dots of light on the tree making me feel that nothing can ever happen, that time will never inch forward. And what are these ephemeral tasks? What can they possibly be?

Another pre-winter day goes down to defeat.

27 comments:

me said...

Your fellow Madisonians can appreciate the lack of productivity this time of year. I am a firm believer that man is supposed to hibernate.

Icepick said...

me, whether you believe in evolution or Creationism, Man is not supposed to hibernate.

If you believe in evolution, then Man is a hairless plains ape from Africa, where winter is pretty much non-existant.

And if you're a Creationist, I would like to point out that there's no mention of snow in the Garden of Eden! Plus, again note the whole nakedness thing.

You Madisonians are just living at the wrong latitude.

amba said...

Yeah, it's that time of year.

On the other hand -- great dreams!

knoxgirl said...

Early darkness in winter always gives me this weird "urgent" feeling... driving home from work I get this vague sense that I'm needlessly racing the clock: "it's already pitch-black! how am I going to get everything done?!"

DEC said...

A strange thing for a person from snow country is to be on the equator. The sun goes down around 6 p.m. every night of the year. Meanwhile, the weather is always hot.

Simon Kenton said...

Conversely, DEC, it's strange to be in Alaska as the soltice approaches, and everyone, even your littlest children, is alive and jangled with energy, and the daylight lengthens 12 minutes each 24 hours.

quietnorth said...

Two words: Picnic Point.

AllenS said...

Simon Kenton:

I don't understand the 24 hour day light thing in Alaska. Where is the sun at 6 am, 12 noon, 6 pm, and at 12 midnight. What about the east-west positioning? I'm 250 miles north of you Ann, and the days are even shorter up here.

erp said...

We lived in Vermont for fifteen years and I never got used to the early darkness. Winter days were disorienting, surreal and grey with lowering skies. There were just enough "Vermont Life Calendar" sunny days with glistening snow on the pine boughs to keep most of us on the right side of sanity.

Meade said...

"And what are these ephemeral tasks? What can they possibly be?"

Nothing to do with Christmas shopping I don't suppose. Dirty dishes in the sink? It's Tuesday -- is this the day of the week you floss extra carefully, shave in all those hard-to-reach places, and pop popcorn for your pet squirrels? Better stop staring at that stuck TV screen and get on with it, sweet lady... whatever it is.

And then come back and blog some more, k?

Ron said...

I don't naming the oak tree, but if you start naming the squirrels, professional help may be required!

Me, I'm lovin' the darkness...when the summers are too bright I look up and say, "The Sun. My Old Enemy."

Vampire Ron

Slocum said...

Yeah, I hated how early it got dark when we lived at the 'wrong' edge of the central time zone in Chicago. I prefer living on the western edge of the eastern zone here in Michigan.

Todd said...

I admit, it is a little bizarre to leave work when it's pitch black outside (although I generally am more nonplussed by the opposite: 'the sun just went down a couple hours ago, it can't possibly be time to sleep!'). And I assume that the squirrels in Madtown are hibernating, unlike the 'hairless plains apes from Africa.'

I am forced to conclude (and if you can't follow my logic here, don't worry) that the aforementioned 'ephemeral tasks' include: some sort of unusual food experience; the mocking of an inexplicably popular television program; and some sort of external home-maintenance procedure. All of which could be exhaustively photographed and blogged about if it just weren't so damn dark out.

Too easy?

XWL said...

Juxtaposing intimations of mortality (hey, a Wordsworth allusion, how pretentious. Me, not Prof. Althouse) and "The Daily Show" drew my mind towards this recent sad news.

chuck b. said...

I got a small tree too.

And I don't like winter darkness either. This year I decided to do something about it; I'm getting up at 5:30 a.m. so I can leave work around 3 p.m. and still get a couple hours of evening light at home. Strangely, this schedule seems to make the workday go by faster too.

Ann Althouse said...

The "important tasks" all involve challenging writing (not including blogging!). Going Christmas shopping or doing something with food would be like recess.

Ann Althouse said...

Wow, chuck, that really is tiny. Mine's like 6 feet tall, actually. But if I'd seen one like that, I probably would have sprung for it. Anyway, I agree with you: the solution is to get up super early. I should get up at 4 to reshape my day so the darkness doesn't screw with my mind like today. Absurdly, I dealt with it by watching what I already considered the saddest movie I'd ever seen. It wasn't as sad on rewatching, but it was still awfully sad: "The Grave of the Fireflies."

chuck b. said...

Oh, cool--I feel like i need to see more anime. The whole genre caught on when I was paying attention to other things. I have a lot of catching up to do, so thanks for the tip. I do like sad movies. As far as anime, I've seen Spirited Away (which was like being stoned without using drugs) and a few episodes of Magical Shopping Arcade (less interesting) and probably a couple others that don't come to mind at the moment.

Icepick said...

AllenS, during the time of the midnight sun, the sun circles the horizon. Latitude and time of year would alter how high the sun would get above the horizon, but it would never be overhead. If the sun were ever overhead above the Artic Circle, we'd all be in deep sh*t.

Dale B said...

If the sun were ever overhead above the Artic Circle, we'd all be in deep sh*t.

And it wouldn't be the artic circle any more either.

Icepick said...

Dale B, I almost mentioned that, and decided that was probably TOO obscure. I'm glad you brought it up though. I was wrong of me to leave that out!

AllenS said...

Icepick:

So the sun is in the east at 6 am, in the south at noon, in the west at 6 pm and then in the north at midnight?

Ann Althouse said...

Wednesday morning: I'm up at 4:30, using the "chuck b" approach to facing the winter darkness. Now, about those 6 tasks....

Mike said...

Am I the only one on the planet who actually likes winter? The snow is beautiful, warm coats are a comfort, fires in the fireplace are magical, and I get much more done with the early darkness, since I'm not outside for hours after work.

Oh, and squirrels don't hibernate.

Icepick said...

Allen S, it depends where you are. If you're right at the pole, the sun is ALWAYS to the south!

reader_iam said...

Wow! I love the name "Agatha" for a tree.

I have one out front named "Phoebe."

And my desktop computer is "Honoria," while my laptop is "Eustacia" (in honor of the mother of one of my favorite mystery characters).

I love naming things ... one of my longest-standing quirks.

Creationist or evolutionist, (Wo)Man SHOULD be able to hibernate, I say.

Good luck with slogging through.

reader_iam said...

My thumb drive's name is "Harriet," the same characters wife, btw.