In case you haven’t heard, Daylight Savings time ended this morning at 2 a.m. and the long march into cold, forbidding darkness got underway. In the coming weeks, daylight hours will shrivel into daylight minutes.
Things wouldn’t be so dire if shorter days meant a shorter season, but it doesn’t. Winter drags on for, what?, ten months? Eleven? All right, five if we count November, which we absolutely should. September and October, too, but meteorologists flat-out refuse to cooperate. They stubbornly cite equinoxes and celestial equators and astrological calendars as official determinants. By their rigid standards, winter begins with the solstice on December 22.
In the real world, winter starts on Labor Day. That’s when swimming pools close and, frankly, should be a day of mourning. When the pools close, it’s the signal life as we’ve known it is over. Finito. The kids are in school, our vacation time’s spent, the flip-flops lie abandoned, and backyard grills languish in garages. Noses have returned to grindstones and the world’s going quiet.
These solemn autumn days have the grim, determined feel of wartime preparations. Which is fitting, since we’re heading into battle against zillions of snowflakes, bitter, relentless cold, and all the attendant miseries of chapping, chafing, and chilblains. Wouldn’t it be easier to just go in the house until Memorial Day — or the thermometer tops 78º, whichever comes first? I’m not into the survivalist lifestyle.
Humans don’t fare well in polar vortices or ice storms or heavy snowfalls. We simply aren’t built for it; we’re missing an R-value and spikes. So we shiver and turn a ghastly shade of blue until April. Someone somewhere needs to turn the sunlight back on. Illuminating a frozen landscape of icicles and nekkid tree branches might not warm the heart, but the precious rays of sunshine will make a car’s interior nice and toasty. Almost like magic.
And there’s a word for that particular phenomenon: apricity. It’s a term long out of use, but means the warmth of the sun in winter. Isn’t that lovely? Apricity. Add that to your Christmas list. Tell Santa to keep the cruddy ice and snow and bring us a ton, or eighty, of apricity.
Thank you for your cooperation. And remember to zip up.