Sunday, January 12, 2014

How to Take Advantage of Winter's Early Darkness

Winter gives the sun early curfews and tucks it in to read it a bedtime story before the humans are satisfied with their daily doings. Sometimes the darkness makes the days seem too short to do anything productive, but just because it's dark doesn't mean the day is over. There's so much you can do when it's dark out, too.

1. Have a movie night at 5:00.
Now you don't have to wait for 9:00 PM to be able to see the TV without closing the curtains to snuff out any glares. Maybe you'll be more inclined to make yourself a bowl of popcorn, since you're not so tired already.

2. Have a glow stick party.
These days, glow sticks are no longer made simply for wearing like stylish flashlights. There are so many games you can play, and winter is great because the dark comes early so you can play early!

3. Bundle up and sit outside to look at the stars.
Winter happens to be prime time for clear skies, so the stars tend to be more visible than usual. If you've got a zero degree sleeping bag, you could squish yourself into that and lay on your back on a lounge chair or just on the ground. If there's snow, you could lay out a tarp to keep from getting wet--or, just bundle up in snow pants and a waterproof coat and make a snow angel while you're staring up at the sky!

4. Catch every sunset.
Since the sun sets so early in winter, it's exponentially easier to watch it from start to finish. Winter sunsets also tend to be more vividly colorful than other sunsets, mostly because the skies are much clearer allowing for more light waves to stick around.

5. Make shadow hand puppets.
I don't know if you're aware how many animal silhouettes two hands can make. Rabbits, wolves, eagles, goats, alligators, spiders, ducks, bears, frogs, turtles... Need I continue? You could even act out a story with shadow puppets--and I must say, eating somebody else's bunny shadow with your alligator shadow is quite laughable.

6. Have a dinner at candlelight.
Question why you don't do this every night.

7. Make a faux campfire indoors and tell scary stories.
Better yet, have a fire outdoors in the cold! Use a flashlight for the flame and put crumpled newspaper around it to make it look glowy.

8. Let your mind wander.
I don't know what it is about darkness, but I know I'm always more inspired and thoughtful in the dark. Every night, I have trouble falling asleep because my mind is spinning with inspiration and can't wait for tomorrow to put it to use. Keep a notepad with you at all times to jot down any useful thoughts the dark ignites in you. Plan warm weather activities to look forward to in spring and summer.

9. Play some bone-chilling video games.
Apartment Therapy has a list of great ideas. I'd also suggest Silent Hill, which I recall to be the most psychologically traumatizing game I've ever watched my brother play.

10. Read.
If you're the adventurous type like Silkworm and me and you find it hard to sit still reading even though you love books because you'd rather be writing your own story, winter may be your best opportunity. When it gets too dark and too cold outside for adventures, settle down to quench your wanderlust with somebody else's stories. Curl up in a ball of blankets inside a blanket fort with string lights hung inside for atmosphere.

I know it's hard to believe, but soon winter will bid farewell and we'll get our hours of daytime back. If you're not a fan of winter, keep it's expiration date in mind, and make the best of the darkness while you can.

Is there anything else you like to do in the dark of winter?

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