The fruitful dark

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – Keats

I didn’t have to get up particularly early today – was looking forward to waking late. The weather, however, had other ideas. Just at the moment we are getting regular, really heavy rain. I sleep at the top of the house and the rain hitting the roof was loud enough to wake me from a deep sleep. It wasn’t quite 8 but it was still pretty much dark. There is a profound joy to be had from lying in bed in the early morning half-light listening to rain.

The UK is lucky, it never really gets ‘weather’. Temperatures over 30 or under minus 5 are rare enough to make the news. We even have weather alerts that go out if we approach these temperatures or if they are going to hang around for a couple of days. Our seasons are mainly obvious from the changes in hours of daylight – sometimes as few as six in the winter and as many as 18 in the summer. For such a small island the minimum and maximum vary a lot in different parts of the country.

I love autumn and winter. I love dark mornings and evenings. Being cosy and warm at home with the curtains closed. Perhaps even more, going for a walk early or late – the world puts on a whole new wardrobe. There are far fewer people out and about, it tends to be quieter and everything just looks different in the shadows. Different but beautiful. Perhaps I like what is hidden by the dark as much as I love what is brought out by it – who knows.

When I’m at home, the evenings seem to last much longer and that gives me so much more time to spend on the things I love. In my house, as the nights draw in we decamp to the kitchen – dinner becomes all about doing the prep and the cooking together as well as eating together. TV maybe comes on late at night but early evening it’s a forgotten box.

I also find that it’s much easier to write in the darkening early-evening – say 4pm till 6pm. It’s as though I feel pressurised to be outside and ‘doing’ if it’s still light. I love gardening but light evenings do tend to mean weeding, planting and harvesting pre-dinner. Post-dinner I’m not at my best creatively (or am a bit too creative if we had wine with the meal, if you know what I mean). As the sun goes down and the lights come on my mental lights come on too. To badly paraphrase Keats, season of writing and mellow fruitfulness (sorry, not one of my best…).

So this year, I’m setting myself another goal. At least 500 words in that two hour window. For now I’ll cheat and allow the blog to count. As the nights darken, I’m aiming for the blog and a separate 500 on the cook book or the fiction. Whatever seems right on that particular night. Wish me luck. And I’d love to hear from you if you decide to join me.

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