Crofting: The Natural Day in Winter

It is snowing here. It is winter, and we have weeks yet, months even, of this weather. The wind is sharp out of the southwest, bringing cloud cover and precipitation. The ground is frozen, probably until March or April. We had meant to pull some fence posts that had been left along the east field, where our landlord had started a fence, but we did not get that done, so the few in the ground and the pile of cedar will remain another season.

I am hoping for a complete recovery from the mysterious auto-immune condition that has made life miserable for most of the past year. I took my earnings and went to the doctor, and talked him into a new course of medication, beginning with prednisone. The problem with the steroid is that it keeps me awake, even if I take it early in the day. This round left me fidgety and high-strung rather than energetic and ambitious. It takes a few days for the drug to work out of one’s system. Perhaps tonight I will fall asleep in a reasonable way.

We are keeping the natural day cycle as much as we can. We are not up late past sundown, and we switch to low light shortly after dark. I may have artificial light on for a while to finish washing dishes, but then it is multiple candles, gradually extinguished. My husband is ready for bed by 6:30 or 7 pm; I follow within a half hour. Both of us are sleepy and ready to extinguish lights (bedside electric lamps – no candles in bedrooms) by 8 pm. Dreadfully early!

But what are we missing? Some chat online, maybe a phone call, although those are rare these days. We have no television. I was finding make-work to stay awake until 10 pm some nights, although I too was heading for the quilt and pillow earlier if I could.

Nicholas is happy with this. He has suffered from SAD (seasonal affective depression) for years. Partly this is because he worked in businesses that were straight-out busy all through December, and he was forced up late at night, with few periods of rest. It did not suit him. I wonder why we do this to ourselves, why we not only keep an artificial day but an artificial summer? Most mammals settle in to sleep more in the winter, conversing energy. It is a mistaken notion to think that hibernation and the dormancy of trees are for rest. It is because the organism does not have the resources to keep moving, to keep growing, to put out leaves and keep them from freezing. Dormancy and reduced activity are normal in the natural winter cycle.

Sleep, deep REM sleep, is necessary for collagen to be produced. I have not been getting good sleep because of pain and by trying to stay on a worldly day schedule. I am hoping that more deep sleep will heal my damaged skin and immune system.

So we have pulled back from the worldly rush of the holiday season, because it makes no sense to us. Christmas activities for most of the Christian world are about creating a false environment – one that has never existed, a winter wonderland of nostalgia and a fantasy North Pole where Santa and the elves live all year on ice cream and fruit cake. We live in the real North, a harsh environment through the cold months. It is too real at times. We have moved away from the artificial day, the artificial summer, the artificial candy-coated Christian fantasyland.

Mt. Katahdin by Sisley

 

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