This is a difficult time of year for me; I’d forgotten just how dark the winters are here in Dawson City. It’s been something like 3 years since I was here in December. With the kids, our day begins at 5 am…a full 5 hours before the first light in the sky. And because we’re in a valley, we don’t actually see the sun in the sky for several weeks (I seem to remember that it’s the second or third week of January when we get the first fleeting glimpse). The sun begins to set around 3:30. It’s hard.
I feel this sluggishness that seems to correlate. And maybe we’re meant to really hibernate at this time of year. My first winters here, childless, were spent binge-watching the t.v. series we could rent from the video store (pre-Netflix, don’t ya know) and smoking copious amounts of pot. I’d get out for a walk when there was light. We’d visit friends, the ones with the best sun exposure usually, and drink beer out of cans. Brunch, dinner parties, gatherings of friends in kitchens; it was not so bad. It was novel, in a way. The quality of light or cold, all new to me and my friends.
But now there are so many demands on me, and also I’m 10 years older. I suppose, children or no, I’m happy to be past those fuzzy days spent stoned on the couch. And I’d like to be able to access some kind of motivation, or a continuation of the motivation I feel in the sunnier months. But the long dark fills my veins. It feels like a game we used to play as kids: you’d lay down, eyes closed, and someone would run their fingernail along your outstretched arms, tell you they were cutting you open. Then they’d lightly patter their fingers along the cut, then, more pressure with their fists. Filling you with pebbles, then boulders. They’d pinch along the cut, stitching you up, then tell you to lift your arms–they’d be so heavy. It’s like that, with the winter dark and cold. My limbs are full of it. It’s a monumental effort to write this now. Monumental effort to engage with the kids. The thought of getting all of us dressed, only to spend 10 minutes in the yard with at least one of us crying that it’s cold, is not motivating. I confess to not getting the kids outside much at all, lately. I’m so thankful Aedan goes to school, has recess. It’s one less thing for me to stress about.
There are families that thrive here. I see their pictures on Facebook: tobogganing, skating on frozen ponds, snowmobiling along the trails. It makes me so tired just to think of it. Maybe it’s SAD. Maybe I just need the right supplements, or a swift kick in the ass. What I do know is that I’m taking the kids to London for Christmas: we leave on Sunday and I know that even just a couple more hours of daylight will make the difference. Or I hope it will.
How do you cope with the winter months? Are you able to stay motivated or, like me, would you rather stay in bed til March?