The winter solstice is a month away, and already the darkness slips into the afternoon hours like a blackened fog. My drive home from work requires headlights, and the sun, which had blistered my eyes as I drove toward the western horizon only days ago, is gone now, leaving only traces of red in the sky. My headlights push back the darkness, and streetlights form little oases amid the dark, but the darkness has the advantage and cloaks all around me.
The cold has crept in, too. The forecasters blame an arctic air mass, but I believe it's the calendar, the unpredictability of late November and the misfortunes of chance. I wrap myself in warm toppings and shiver to warm myself through kinetic convection, but my fingers still ache with the chill. The dry air leaves my hands rough and dry as sandpaper accented by tiny white lines, like streams in a Google Maps page.
Despite what the calendar says and where the sun lies along the celestial equator, winter has arrived. Get used to it. Days will be short, and nights will be long, and thermometers will have little but bad news for the next four months. We will grow accustomed to it, not because we like it but because we must.