Friday, October 25, 2013

Going Into the Dark Season

Come September, we are all a little bit sleepier.  Perhaps it is the hectic late summer pace we keep here, with the gardening and canning and putting up of summer's bounty.  Perhaps it is a subconscious reaction to school starting--oh, school, how it sucks a person's energy!  Most likely, and what I do believe, is that it has a lot to do with the noticeable lessening of daylight hours.

The amount of daylight has been decreasing steadily since the summer solstice in June.  But it seems that it doesn't really hit you (actually, me, and DH too although he poo-poos the idea) until closer to the autumnal equinox.  After that it's light's out, literally, until the brighter sunnier days of mid-January.

Right now, we are nearly to the end of daylight savings time in Michigan.  Which means that when the alarm goes off at 6 a.m., it is pitch black dark outside and nobody really wants to get up.  Not at all like 6 a.m. in early June, when the sun is up, shining cheerfully, and the birds are singing along.

Nope, 6 a.m. in late October is groan, punch the alarm clock, pull the covers up a little higher, will yourself to deep sleep in the nine minutes until the alarm goes off again. Repeat scenario a few more times, giving the snooze button a workout, until getting out of bed is inevitable.  Because if you don't get up right now, you will be late for work, or miss the school bus.

It also means that horses are fed in the dark, out in the last stands of summer pasturage.  The tractor headlights light up the fence line, and the waiting forms of horses anxious for their morning hay to supplement the dwindling grass.

After daylight savings time ends, mornings will be briefly brighter, dusky for a few weeks, then they will return to darkness.  By then horses will be moved into the barns, into stalls each night where they can rest out of the wind and cold.  But dinner time will then become the dark time.  Deer hunting will end at six (or even five-thirty!) instead of seven thirty.

Work will slowly move into more of an indoor nature, and less of an outdoor one.  The garden will be put to bed.  The only "food" needing to be "harvested" will be of the cervid variety (aka deer). The lawn will sleep, needing no more maintenance until April. The hay field too will slumber. There will be no weeding to do in the flowerbeds.

Indoors, we will work on projects, perhaps making Christmas presents, perhaps tackling a home improvement that was put off until there was less daylight hours keeping us busy outdoors.  And I will plan next year's garden, of course, browsing through the seed catalogs that will appear in the mailbox around Christmas time.  Catalogs that will be received with much more excitement than the ones that showcase clothing, or purses, or doo-dads for the home.

Amid this descent into the dark season, the sewing machine gets used a bit more frequently than it did during the season of long daylight.  Currently I've been working on some blocks for a quilt swap I'm participating in.  The theme of this one is "blacks, brights and batiks".  It is perfect for cheering me up on a gloomy, chill, rainy (or sleety!) fall day.  This morning I managed to snatch a little time at the sewing machine between chores, and finished my required number of blocks.

They are bright and cheerful.  Bright enough that I am thinking I might want to keep making more blocks of the same theme colors, and make a table runner or lap quilt to brighten up the coming winter days and nights.

All the block instructions came from  Top is Amish Star; I made 3 blocks of this pattern. There are 4 Pinwheel blocks; 3 corners and 3rd row 2nd from left (bottom right corner I did a variation, making my points a different color). 2nd row 2nd from left is Double Aster, which looks hard to make, but is actually very easy and cool to piece. 2nd row right corner, 3rd row 2nd from right and 4th row 2nd from left are Monkey Wrench.  The final pattern I made is called Woven Ribbons and appears in the 3rd row right side and 4th row 2nd from right.

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