The Dark Side

As the days dwindle, and the sun is not yet winter thin these golden evenings demand attention.

I take the same walk two days in a row. The first overcast. Things are dewy and beautiful, but flat. The mountains a smudge, the grasses a field instead of individual shoots. The dirt road is a wide ribbon, and my movement is the only animation along the stretch. The next day it is all sun and shadows, the movement of light through the leaves and reflecting off the pond, 100,000 twinkles of daylight stars. The meadow resolves into its composite parts, the mountains reveal their layers. Each silo is a reflector, bouncing sunlight back to me. Everything has depth. From the grey of yesterday, to full color. It is a chicken and egg game of did the light change my mood, or did my mood change my perception of the light. I’m not sure it matters.

Years ago I read that every well designed room needs light from at least two directions. Take a look. It is particularly true with natural light, but holds with lamps and accent lights as well. The house we moved from was flooded with light. Rooms opened into each other, doors had sidelights and transoms, or were fully glass. There were skylights and uplights and pendants and sconces, and lamps. All the light you would want. Or, at least all the light I would want, and I would walk through the rooms dimming, switching, lowering and raising shades, setting the mood.

When I owned a restaurant I spent a great deal of time installing lighting. The switches where in a cabinet behind the bar, so it was a bit of a headbanging game of limbo to adjust them, and the 18 or so switches were all served by a dimmer slider as narrow as something that came from the mandolin. On busy nights the staff would forget to adjust from the early evening lighting scheme to the late night scheme. When I walked in from the outside world I would duck under the counter, crouch on the sticky mats and slam my head into the light cabinet. It was hotter than Florida in there, and we had drilled ventilation in the side, in the pretense of solving the problem. After four years I had muscle memory of the settings. I probably should have invested in a timer with “mood memory”, but it was part of my value add. Each night resulted in a slightly different feel.

I first heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder in college, which was where I first heard of lots of things. One of my boyfriend’s roomates had a “sad-a-lite”, and it buzzed like it was taking flight. When I tried it I felt like I could take off; its buzz translated into my own.

Our new house has great afternoon light, as does my office and my studio.

I miss the morning Eastern light. It is less pushy than the afternoon light. It is waking up, just like us. The garage is on the east side of this house. I mentally remodel, moving our bedroom over there. This is just an exercise, the house will stay as it is. The next time I build or buy the kitchen and master bedroom will be in the east. We can just get good shades.

The worst part of Vermont for me is the darkness, not the cold. I don’t wake up in the dark. I do technically, but I am going through the motions. Waiting for sun. When it comes it is thin and cold, to match the winter air. Not enough to create a spark, or help energize whatever is going on inside. I try. I add candles and turn on every lamp in the house, carbon footprint be damned.

4:30 comes and it is bedtime.  Time for sweaters and fires and cocoa. And moodlights and trips to sunny places.

We are headed down the steep slope to darkness.

I have pre-nostalgia for fall, missing it before it is gone.



Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

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