- Elisa Järnefelt
I loved the dark of the fall and early winter as a child. I remember the excitement of playing outside in our yard with the neighbors in the cold, pitch-black evening and the comfort of returning home to the light and warmth. I could not believe my luck that I got to stay up so late. (Of course, it probably was not very late; the darkness just arrived early.)
As I grew up, I started spending my days working indoors. The dark of the fall became an enemy that slowly but surely ate away at the daylight. In the dimming afternoons, I was left in the artificial glow, wondering how I'd have enough energy to tackle my ever-growing to-do list.
Our daughter is 4 now. Somehow, in this moment, the fall does not feel as dreadful. It is full of notions of the season: The deciduous trees do not die when they lose their leaves; they simply enter a state of rest that allows them to survive through winter. The air feels fresher now and smells different than in summer: wet soil and decomposing leaves mixed with crisp breeze. The birds that remain in Vermont for the winter sing rarely, but when they do, it is more noticeable. The birds that left will remember their way back here. When exploring outside, we might walk over an underground burrow of a hibernating animal. When returning inside, we can finally light up the fireplace and lie on the floor, basking in its warmth.
We see the stars in the sky before bedtime, and my daughter says excitedly: "It is so late! Usually, by now, I'm already asleep." (Of course, it is not very late; the darkness just arrives early.)