Cold Dark Places

Cambridge, MA, fall 2019

Dear Reader,

It is the point of no return in Boston. There comes a time every autumn when the temperature plummets overnight and there is no sign that it will be warm again until spring. Although it has not exactly been warm lately, this is the first time that temperatures dropped below freezing. As a northerner, I am not afraid of the cold, however, the wind in Boston bites!

I imagine life must be very different for people living in places like Arizona or Texas where the temperatures are somewhat “normal” all year round. Do the seasons lose their meaning when the weather is moderate? Is it harder to recall specific days when all of the days are pretty similar weather-wise? In Boston, we have entered the dark period. The air is cold, the wind hurts your face, and the sun sets before 5pm. 

Reykjavik, Iceland, summer 2019

It’s kind of crazy if you think about how seasons affect our lives. A tiny example about this is weddings. Summertime is the most popular season for weddings in the U.S.. Another summertime phenomenon is crime. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, crime is higher in the summer months, specifically these crimes rise by the following percentages in the summer: Burglary 11% , Theft of property outside the home 8% higher, Reported sexual assaults 10%, Reported domestic violence assaults 11.5%, other assaults 4-7%.

Winter, on the other hand, brings about its own set of problems. Cold dark weather can negatively impact us. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), depression associated with winter and related darkness, affects those more frequently who live in higher latitude regions. The highest percentage of affected individuals can be found in Nordic countries. This likely relates to the fact that these regions experience very little daylight during the winter months.

Reykjavik, Iceland, winter 2019

I looked up the daylight hours for Reykjavik, Iceland today (November 8th, 2019). The length of time between sunrise and sunset is only 7 hours and 16 mins. On the darkest day of the year in Reykjavik, the sun is only up for around 4 hours! However, Reykjavik, located just six degrees south of the Arctic Circle, also experiences long days in the summer (peak daylight hours reaching 21 hours!). I have visited Reykjavik in both the summer and winter times. Dear Reader, I highly recommend that you visit in the summer rather than the winter 😉

To put daylight hours into perspective, I have also searched Boston and Los Angeles’ daylight hours for today. Today, Boston experienced 10 hours and 3 mins of daylight and Los Angeles 10 hours and 35 mins. Although daylight hours are similar across Boston and Los Angeles on paper, it feels different in actuality. The sun sets in Boston at around 4:30pm, while it sets just after 6pm in Los Angeles. Boston’s days just feel much shorter because the sun rises earlier (before 7am), when many are not awake to enjoy it. On the contrary, the days in Reykjavik feel shorter, quite frankly, because they are! 

Some of us live in cold dark places for extended periods of time and this can be tough. To all of you out there living north of Florida, I hope you get enough sunlight and are spending the colder months with friends and family! We all need warmth, Dear Reader, hopefully you northerners are getting it from sources other than the sun.

Love,

Raven

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