Winter, how to survive the darkness…

Winter sky from our house

Winter is now firmly with us. This morning Dunoon was sheathed in ice, and I sit here just after 5PM and it it totally dark outside.

I confess to dreading the dark long winters- longing for spring again. Like many of us, my mood always takes into itself some of the dark over the fallow season. Some of us have real issues with this- it makes us ill. If this is you, I hope that this year is easier than most.

As for me, I can not describe my ennui as anywhere near as severe as Seasonal Affective Disorder– rather I just get a bit stuck in a dark trough, so this year I am trying to re-order the way I think about winter. I know it to be beautiful, inspiring, meditative. A few years ago I wrote this poem at the sight of snow on the hills over the loch from where I live;


First snows


The first snows of winter bring their blessing

To the hills across the loch

Yesterday dull and grey

Now blue-white crystal and pure


Soon it will be gone

Rain will bring decay

Rending white all mottled brown

Until the snow, all rotten

Is released

Worming down into dark earth


But for now, my eyes are drawn to high lands

Captured by reflected sun

Sparkling, showing no shadow

Driving out the dark things of the winter


Dressing up light for the dancing

And leading me on


Dressing up light for the dancing

Then gone


CG 2005.

The strange fact, revealed today in Radio 4’s programme Digital Nation, darkness is good for you. The problem is that most of us rarely experience it- we surround ourselves with artificial light. We screw up our serotonin levels by staring at bright computer screens before we go to bed, we forget what the stars look like, or what it means to find a natural rhythm of day/night.

So, here is my suggestion- let us embrace darkness. Let us see it as a blanket wrapping us for rest, for friendship, for interior creativity.

Today I spent much of the day making things;

First this;

driftwood fish

Then, as the ultimate winter food stuff, a great big pan of pickle;


This evening I am going to spend some time with friends.

So, may your winter be full of darkness, so that you might rest from harsh artificial light.

May your interior spaces be warm and full of friendship and creativity.

And may the stark beauty of the fallow wild places speak to your heart.


5 thoughts on “Winter, how to survive the darkness…

  1. Stopping on the hill road above Loch Striven and Loch Riddon, turning off all the lights on the car, leaving it a few minutes, and – wow – the stars are breathtaking. The last time I did it (last winter) it was also about 5 below, which was also breath taking. Good blog post!

  2. You know me-I love to embrace the darkness!! Most of my crises have been in spring or summer. Love the cosiness of winter. There is always the C word to depress me though, but that it a totally different thing!!!

  3. We had a bonfire here last night – homemade potato pie and ginger parkin – lovely. But, when everyone had gone I sat watching the embers of the fire and the wonderful display of stars well into the early hours, with only the call of the owls for company. It was really lovely just to sit in the dark and think of my friends.

  4. Hi Chris,

    Beautiful poem!

    Just to let you know, I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Blog Award – you can see the nomination here:
    I love the creativity that you put into things – not just your blog; still have fond memories of your loom when you visited CCF last.

    I was really encouraged when I received my nomination … I hope you are too!

    God Bless,

    Paul at ‘Red Setter Christian’

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