Darkness comes at 4:30 in this latitude at this time of the year. Everything slows down. It is hard to want to go out in the evening and do anything. Hibernation beckons. Carbs whisper in the kitchen. There is only about a month of this. By mid-January the days will be noticeably longer. But for the next month we closed around with darkness. The sun retreats, leaving us a little uneasy. It is too dark for too long. In summer, euphoria rules, afterglow lasts until around 10 pm. And the opposite happens. We all want to be outside. We work into the deepening twilight, just a bit more weeding, watering, mowing. We'll go in in a minute. Mosquitoes usually drive me in at last, but the twilight lingers and beckons. I no longer have screened porch, but when I grew up here, we sat out at night until midnight or later. The neighbors came over. The grownups drank beer. We talked or watched the lightening bugs comfortable in the warm evening. Sometimes when it was really hot, we stayed out there to avoid the heat inside the house. Once and awhile, I slept out on the porch.
In winter, the porch was glassed in, but it is always too cold to sit out there. I think the glass acted as a big heat absorber. And we could keep food out there, or the Christmas tree until the house was ready for it. Wasted space in winter, essential in summer. So we ritually lugged the heavy storm windows up from the basement and installed them. In spring, in April maybe, we took them down, and put the screens up. I miss having a porch, a place to wait out the long summer evenings, to drink iced tea and chat with the neighbors, a place to read in the shade without bugs biting, a place to nap on hot days. A cliche, I know, but neighborhoods diminished when new houses with air conditioning came into fashion. The richness of life lessened and we all became poorer. I still want a porch, though I don't think it will reverse anything or change much. But it would be nice to sit there of an evening, even a dark evening in deep midwinter. A space heater, a blanket, a good book, and the old dog.