Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Fairy Lights

Today in this the northern hemisphere is the shortest day, in terms of light. The darkest day of the year. Tomorrow will be lighter, and it will, daily, continue to get lighter and lighter, warmer and warmer, for six whole months. At first it won't feel any ligher, and it may be even colder tomorrow, but we will have the sun for a little longer. And so it will go. By February it will be noticeable, and I'll start saying things like: "blimey, it's still light and it's six o'clock!" I love February for that.

One of the benefits of being this age is experience: I know the light will return because it has done so for all of my (fifty) years. Dark may insinuate it's way into my life until it becomes a wall I can't get through or over, but all I need do is look back at all the other walls I have made it past, and not lose hope. It's not always easy to hang on to hope – I often need to manufacture it, and I guess that's one of the reasons we have Christmas: it gives us something to look forward to in the gloom – but it is possible, with a little help. I've just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and it was exactly the illumination I needed.

I have never experienced anything as cold and dark as the inhabitants of Guernsey did during WW2. I've never suffered long term starvation, or feared for my life, once, let alone daily for five years. And I never had to make a decision about whether to send my child away for his own safety, and then having decided to do so (wisely in hindsight) lost contact with him (and the whole of the outside world) for five years. How must it have felt to not know how one's child is faring, if s/he is alive or dead, healthy or sick? Every day must have felt interminable and barely tenable. My reading was halted at that part by, not just tears, convulsions. I had to take several deep breaths before I could continue. Yet those people, mothers, fathers, grandparents, kept going and, mostly, survived; their children came home, and light returned. I felt much better after reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.


We have reached the bottom of the wintry abyss and all we have to do is hang on to hope in order to rise back up to the top. For this I think I'm going to need a lot of books, so if anyone has any light infusing recommendations I'd be very grateful.


MITM said...

Thank you KB. I was a bit in the dark over the last few days myself. You made be realize it was just a matter of my orientation.

I do indeed have such a book, but you most likely have read it:

The Cat's Table
by Michael Ondaatje

Rachel Fox said...

Apparently the shortest day is today (22ndhappens every four years or something). So don't get too excited... yet.

Eryl said...

MITM ~ I once saw an art installation, it was lots of disfigured crocheted people crawling out of and over a wall entitled: 10% what happens 90% reaction. It struck a chord, and I have tried very hard to assess my reactions to events and circumstances ever since. Not easy in the thick of things but afterwards it helps enormously.

I haven't read that one yet I love Michael Ondaatje. I went through a serious Ondaatje phase a few years ago so don't know how I missed that one. Overjoyed I did, now I have something to look forward to. Thanks.

Rachel ~ how do you know these things? Okay, head down for one more day.

Rachel Fox said...

It was on my calendar.. plus this


Pat said...

I'm so glad you reminded me - I'd missed it and the spring will be round the corner now. I loved that book too- as usual recommended by a blogger.
I'm presently reading a book written by Joseph Novak -'My struggle for Freedom' which is giving me the same sort of feelings. He is seven years older than I am and although I didn't have anywhere near the hardship he had to suffer I can relate to much of what he felt. I wrote about his wife in my blog because we were teenagers and went on holiday together. Her mother went to grammar school with my mum. Sadly I have never met Joe but this was a great way of getting to know him.

Kim Ayres said...

Do make sure you get out in the daylight every day. A couple of years back I was looking into those daylight bulbs and things to combat SAD. What I discovered was that even on a really overcast, dull day, the light outside is still stronger than any indoor lights you might have.

A 20-30 minute walk out in the light - even when it's dull and raining - is one of the best ways to ensure you get the boost of light you need in the dark months

Eryl said...

Rachel ~ aha!

Pat ~ I'll see if it's available on Kindle.

Kim ~ that's interesting; I almost never leave the house, and when I do I'm outside for all of ten minutes. I will change my ways and see if a daily walk stops me wanting to smash my head against the stove. Sometimes I think I should get a dog, that would make me have to go for a walk every day.

Pat said...

Eryl: dogs are lovely - I've adored two in my life - but there's the flippin' pooper scooper now.
Not surprisingly Kim talks good sense.

Titus said...

No help, I'm afraid. I could happily live in cave and only come out during the hours of darkness. I do eat garlic though.

On a more positive note, More4's The Story of Film: An Odyssey.
What mankind can do with light.
Bit about it here:

Kass said...

I share your hopeful expectation of spring through the timely dissemination of light and the reading of moving literature. This is a melancholy holiday for me too.

Young at Heart said...

yeah but we still got to get through February remember....maybe it'll snow for a bit of fun!! Happy christmas....

Kim Ayres said...

If necessary, invest in a good all-weather coat so you can go out in any conditions. Remember to look up and out as much as possible.

And if you time your walk so when you get back it's time for your coffee, you'll feel fuller of life :)

debra said...

I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, too. My late mother-in-law remembered that time and talked about it often. To her, at that time, darkness hid them from bombs. Sobering thought.
I relish the days as we march toward the light. Thanks for a lovely post.

Scarlet Blue said...

I have this book on my pile... must read.

Eryl said...

Pat ~ yeah, pooper-scoopers...

Titus ~ ooh, thanks for that, I will make time to have a good look.

Kass ~ fingers crossed for a fresh start with new-found strength in the coming year, for both of us. We can do it, can't we?

Young at heart ~ wouldn't it be great to get snowed in until the spring?

Kim ~ you're so practical! Luckily I have an enormous duffel coat and a good windproof hat. I hadn't thought about looking up, though I think I do tend to do that anyway.

Debra ~ dark at a protector, I like that, thanks. By the way, I haven't been able to comment on your blog recently: word verification isn't displaying anything to input.

Scarlet ~ you must, it's great. Happy christmas to you too, bit late I know, XXX

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