Wintering Over

When the clocks change, it feels like the turning of the season, for me. Other people mark the beginning of autumn with Labor Day, or the autumn equinox, or Indigenous People’s Day, or Veteran’s Day. For me, it is all about the light. And that light just got cut short.

I am a night person. Period. I wake up slowly. If I have to jump up the minute an alarm rings, I am just less efficient for the rest of the day. Whenever I worked in offices or classrooms where I had to be sharp in the morning, I was wrecked when I got home at the end of the day. When I worked later hours, I could put in fourteen hours of attention on various projects, then sleep like an angel. It’s the way I am wired, and I own it.

I have been noticing that sunset has drifted from its summer peak, well after dinner, to about 5:30. The clocks just changed. Now it will be closer to 4:30, heading for its nadir of 4:11 through most of December.

Readers who don’t live near Boston may not realize that I live way in the eastern end of the time zone. Our sunrises and sunsets are much earlier than, say, New York City. In New York City, the earliest sunset in December is at 4:28. That extra twenty minutes can matter. In the DC metro area, the earliest sunset of the year is at 4:46. In Pittsburgh, the earliest is at 4:53. Zooming with my east coast friends and family during the late afternoon makes me sad. I see them sitting there without lights on while it is pitch black outside here.

Those autumn things

As the days get shorter, I get a bit squirrelly. I am rushing around to do the good-girl autumn things that need to be done around the house. Everyone has their own list.

This year, outside holds less joy because my front yard is covered with plastic to kill the deep-rooted weeds that had mixed their way into my garden. I have gotten seeds that I will be setting up to winter-over to plant in the spring when I open the plastic. I also needed to weed the back flowerbed, which had a remarkable collection of bittersweet and stray ailanthus trees.

When social media works:

One of the things that social media has done well is to connect local people who do similar projects. There are two gardening groups that are full of people who share extra plants. When I cleared my front yard, I was able to donate several flats of Black-Eyed Susans that were in the front, but not infested with Black Swallow Wort. Just this week, someone gave me the seeds that I will leave outside for the winter, so they are ready to get growing early next spring.

I am starting from scratch in the front next spring. That gives me an opportunity to choose more local plants. I am getting both seeds and advice about how to grow more native plants and to choose plants that sustain bees and butterflies.

Planting now gives me something to look forward to when the sun is, once again, setting after 5:00 PM.

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