24 January 20XX +1
My Dear Lucilius:
One of the things I never really have become accustomed to, living this far North, is how dark it is for so long during Winter.
Take this week. The sunrise here will not occur until well after 0700. And that is just the sunrise – if one is hoping for things to “warm up” a bit, one need wait even longer before one is out an about doing things.
Sunset is the same. The sun will set a little after 1700 this week, which means that anything being done that requires more than a headlamp and candles will have to be wrapped up around 1600 or so, to allow enough time to finish off everything that needs to get done before we are plunged back into darkness.
It was not quite as much a bother when we had regular power, of course, but now that such things are fleeting at best or non-extant, it makes a considerable difference. There is a great deal more planning of tasks to be done of course, because any light which is not generated by stored energy is precious, precious in a way it was not a year ago.
Keeping the artificial light is critical as well, of course. Fully charged batteries for everything is a must, as well as rotating them to make sure that everything is equally balanced out. I try to conserve on the use of the computer, as I know in the back of my mind that the panel for charging it will eventually wear down – and at some point, barring the re-establishment of regular power, the data will be frozen forever.
Evenings are long under such circumstances. The house is quiet, with occasional crackles of the fire and the sounds of the rabbits. Too much light can be an issue too: I am too close to the road to have a bobbing headlamp moving in and out of vision. Signs that someone might be up and about, someone with something to take.
This sort of thinking depresses me.
I had the equivalent of blackout curtains before all of this happens – given how cold it becomes here in the Winter, who would not? - but have taken to putting towels over those as well to block any residual light. For better or worse, this cabin came with not a great many windows, so it is a doable task (A side benefit, of course, is that I stay even warmer).
What do I do in the evenings? Read, of course – I am almost to the point of starting the Dostoevsky novels I bought so long ago – or was it only last year; I am saving them as it is likely it is the last “new” material I will see for a bit. Exercise, via the pseudo-treadmill or kettle bells. Practice my martial arts. Pray. Spend time with the rabbits. And of course, go to bed earlier than I might otherwise.
In such pre-Industrial circumstances, one comes to understand why the coming of Spring was such an anticipated event – for the light, if nothing else.
Your Obedient Servant, Seneca