Get game plan in place and game face on for ‘Time of Darkness’


Do most anything that helps you get through the Time of Darkness – and remember you are brave for doing so. On Jan. 19, 2017, I took this dark selfie reflection in my vehicle window in a winter rain. I was rewarded later for my fortitude with a peek of sunshine breaking through the clouds to light a path on a snowy, icy field for a photograph. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
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Journey vs. Destination


Welcome. (Picture Alfred Hitchcock or Rod Serling here, opening a large door into a dark, starless, seemingly bottomless, ominous, cold and ink-black world.) We’ve entered “that time of year.”

Days are short, cloudy and – let’s face it – truly somewhat dismal. The weather would much rather give us clouds, but does offer up sun with a caveat: if there’s sun, the outdoor temperature is in a direct, convoluted relationship to it; the longer the sun is out with its loving and bright rays, the more bitterly cold the temperatures are. I’m thinking whoever set this up must have sat back with crossed arms and laughed manically at the creation.

I think of it – and even call it aloud – “the Time of Darkness.”

Holidays give a wonderful diversion early in the winter season – the Time of Darkness. Yes, that has the ring of a stint in a Medieval dungeon after a viciously fought – and lost – battle. But hey… it kind of feels like that a lot of days, right?

You need a plan to cope with and to get through the Time of Darkness, until the world begins anew – “the Enlightening” – sometime roughly six months away. Maybe it could even occur some months sooner, and not go directly to mid-summer (like this year, when we had virtually no spring and then heat indices in the 90s to 100 for Memorial Day weekend!) There’s a chance it could all happen properly if we play it right with our sacrifices (of sore muscles from shoveling and broken bones from failure to walk on ice) and slaughters (of car-struck deer).

Get a battle plan together to survive the Time of Darkness. Some of the things I do follow. See if any make sense for you (or even make sense, period).

If we happen to have a nice day long after the leaves have dropped from the trees, but snow has yet to arrive or is temporarily melting, put your imagination to good use. It may be early December or late February, let’s say, but in your mind, you can place yourself in the spring of the year because it almost feels like that. You can envision wildflowers popping up through a carpet of dried leaves in the woods, or maybe morels ready for the picking.

I talked to someone recently who noted doing something similar to this – and, importantly, without any prompting from me. I think my mouth might have fallen open to realize I’m not the only one playing these mind tricks to make it through the Time of Darkness. Upon further thought, however, I guess we do have companies making virtual reality glasses to take us where we might want to go by using their implements with our visions and minds. So, I’m not really nuts after all… whew!

Remember, too, that the days start to inch their way to getting “longer” with earlier sunrises and later sunsets starting Dec. 21 or so, the day the season of winter begins. That’s always a biggie for me.

As far as the middle of the Time of Darkness – when holidays are in the rearview mirror and you won’t see another until Memorial Day – do whatever it takes to get through (well, do avoid getting all Jack Nicholsonish as in “The Shining”). I always kind of think of it going back to pioneer days, a period in history I’m fond of. Winter had to really drag for them.

I consider this the time to just hunker down and do what it takes (see above, again, for what not to do). Realize how brave you are to survive in the Time of Darkness. It takes a strong person to get through.

And, ummm, these days we have lots of diversions to help make it through, like coffee groups; high school events, including sports and arts; curling up with a book; taking in movies and the Internet; participating in sports indoors like bowling and pool, and outdoors like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling… You get the idea. We have it tons better than the poor pioneers. Yet thinking of it as hunkering down can make you feel better and stronger as the winter days slowly go by.

“You got this,” as the saying goes.

Here’s one more tip. I’m sorry you’ll have to wait a year to use it. Be sure to stash it in a prominent place in your mind, or better yet, on a 2019 calendar. I’ve just learned that Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer up basically the best deals of the year on travel and vacation bookings. Keep this in mind for next time around. A great way to handle the Time of Darkness is by escaping it on a trip for a while (although deals are offered on trips throughout the year). I looked over so many trips from so many companies on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I felt whipped — like I was cramming during an all-nighter for a test. But I now know how to prepare better for next year.

Good luck with your personal trek through the Time of Darkness. I look forward to seeing you at the Enlightening come March or April. (It better come sooner than May!)

Lisa Brainard still enjoys lifelong pursuits of the outdoors, history and travel as able following a serious accident and stroke in September 2012. She’s written this column weekly for over 15 years.