The toll of winter’s cold is a gift as well

The season of long nights has taken command. The year’s earliest sunset is past, but the time of our sunrises will continue to lag behind throughout the end of the year.

The need for the hearth or heat pump will be with us for months. Meanwhile, the burning of candles and firewood will be required at the beginning and the close of day. The warmth and light are not luxuries, but necessary comforts that turn the gloom to glowing and keep the freezing of water pipes at bay.

It will be another full week before the present nine hours of daylight begins to lengthen, and the cold continues to strengthen. It’s just nature’s way of balancing summer’s sweaty brow with winter’s freezing feet.

The toll of cold is a gain as well. At night, winter presents brilliant, million-star skies, and at dawn the smoke on the water turns into the glitter of frost, spreading like a load of diamonds. In this stark season there is also bounty.