A manifesto for winter light
A lovely post, a beautiful guide to what I want to call human half-hibernation. You have caught the mood of the season perfectly.
This is a wonderful range of suggestions, thank you. :) And it sent my thoughts in so many new directions, as your writing always does...
Your point about how the light seems to find dust and dirt made me think of that first day of bright sunshine in spring where you curse at all the dust and launching into a shame-driven frenzy of triage-cleaning. (Last year, when I was still living in a wooden cabin here in Scotland, that first sunny day in late March was an embarrassing shock, I was disgusted at myself.) Maybe it's something about the oblique light of new spring and late autumn shining through windows at an angle that's rare during those long summer months? Dust-hunting light.
...and that makes me remember being taught about the use of the seasons in surveying and landscape photography when I was an archaeologist - how the low light's great for recording features, but the high summer is when the earth dries out enough to show where hidden features are trapping moisture, but *that* is nothing compared to the terrain shadows that appear after a decent snowfall. A full year of sunlight is a wonderful toolkit for recording a place properly.
Also, I love 9) and I've been talking about something similar with so many people recently, with "Wintering" as the catalyst of those conversations. Just how seasonal could our lives get, in all the ways, including our work? It's a nice antidote to that feeling of our lives being like walking through a city where the lights burn just as exhaustingly 24 hours a day...
I'm rambling. Should have left it at "thank you".
I have renovated two houses and the first act each time has been to take out all overhead lights (not myself!) and instead to rely on lamps big and small. Price was a factor, but ultimately it was because lamplight is so much more flattering of everything - people and things - really.
This is so beautiful -- thank you Katherine. Grateful for you ♥️
This is just delicious. It’s my favorite time of year and this post just helped me love it even more. The candles are out, but I think we could add even more to the mix. Yay for autumn and true coziness. And yay for early christmas lights. Germany starts celebrating Christmas in September, so you’d be welcome here- all the spiced wine and Christmas cookies have been on shelves for weeks already. Snuggle season has begun!
I'm so glad hear someone else really can't handle overhead lights. I try to either take them out or not use them (the men in my family do not understand this - my daughter, however, is on board). The shift to less light and colder days has a weight or heft this year for me that it has not had in the past. This year I have more solitude than I have ever experienced, which leaves me a bit in awe really, since I think quiet and aloneness are necessary for me, and I've had so little of them. The shift of season seems to amplify the richness of my solitude, and I am grateful.
I also do not relish overhead lights, but I will take to lighting candles more this time of year
I so love this post--Of course, I had never heard the word "apricity" - I am grateful for the introduction. I have candles all over my house, and am feeling the urge to turn off the garish, sharp lights that actually make me feel like squinting. I think it's time for a re-read of Wintering. This was wonderful, Katherine, thank you.
I spent 6 years of my childhood in Norway and that was where I gained my love of small lamps everywhere, log fires and candles (often on windowsills) throughout the day and evening. It has made me love the darkening days of autumn/ early winter far more than I might otherwise have done and I am forever grateful. I loved this piece - some beautifully resonant phrases and descriptions. I had never thought before about the warmth of candlelight and its contrast with winter light. Thank you, Katherine.
I LOVE this. Wintering was the first book I read of yours, and I appreciated the details for approaching light this coming season. Thank you.
I echo everything said here. Beautiful. Thank you. Probably mentioning something you already know, but I didn't until recently ... there are different types of light bulbs available today, from 'cool' to 'warm' light. Changing the type of light bulb and putting in a dimmer switch might be one option to think about that could reduce household friction. One other thing ... please avoid cheap scented candles full of nasty chemicals! Off to look for sun-rise, sunset times ........
A friend reintroduced you to me a couple months ago and this essay was among the first I read. Following the points of it, I did rearrange my living space, already with raspberry painted walls for the past 20 years, currently referred to as the Raspberry Womb. It is here that I sleep, do daily living, reading, and well, living, as I heal into walking again. One of the points about light in is that the vibrant raspberry changes based on the sun's angle. Your point in this essay is well taken about noticing light through the day, in this room it quite shouts out to be noticed in the winter. A tennis ball sized disco ball hangs from a plant rod above the south facing window; revolving diamonds in the room celebrate early afternoon with glee. Thank you for the points in this essay to which I will return. Meanwhile, I will be reading Wintering again. It helped me plot my entry into retirement, leaving a position I thrived in for 15 years. Wintering helped me make a loving exit.
Beautiful. Here in the U.S., if you are over a certain age, it is normal to go south. I am a bit unusual as I do enjoy many aspects of the colder months.... the moon being one of them. Loved your book, Wintering.
I was thinking this morning about how much I love the golden light of autumn. It’s a balm to my soul after the glare of summer that feels like an assault much of the season. This soothing, warm light seems enhanced this year, maybe because we have had so little rain in the past six months. We still have most of the leaf canopy, thanks to a lack of freezing temperatures and it’s mostly still green-- a bit dusty and tired, but mostly green. The lowering angle of the sun adds longer shadows to the dense shade of the still-full trees. Bright golden and red maples intermingle their leaves with their deep green neighbors who haven’t thought of bright fall costumes yet. Such a gift to the senses! I will remember this and hold the warmth when the light thins to frostiness in the coming months.
Some really lovely ways to embrace the contrasts between light and darkness.
I have to say, although it flies firmly in the face of avoiding harsh artifical light, my SAD lamp is a saviour at this time of year. I don't know why September and October are the worst for it - maybe the grey, rainy skies in Scotland robbing us of the daylight too soon makes the transition feel harsh and unwelcome.
I've positioned my SAD lamp on a windowsill so that I can eat my breakfast and look to the East for the sunrise, on the days it does appear, and bathe myself in its brightness - somehow it feels less of a chore if there is a chance that there might be some actual sun involved.