The clocks have just “fallen back” to make lighter mornings and darker evenings, a point where most of us in Britain feel, yes winter’s here now, even though technically it’s still autumn…seasonal living is definitely more affected by light than warmth in a country where to quote Agatha Christie “it was bitterly cold, as only an English June day could be”.

Living with a real fire made winter a lot more enjoyable (when it wasn’t me doing the sawing, chopping, carrying of heavy buckets of smokeless fuel or stacking wood and emptying ash pans, you understand ;)) Nights drawing in meant a lazy evening by a glowing fire after a short day on the allotment, where a satisfying  but wildlife friendly tidy-up was in progress, helped by the first sharp frosts. Planting tulips outside and setting hyacinths in pots were the last jobs before planting garlic on winter solstice. Time slowed down after the rush of all the harvests and  getting crops into storage, so days out to Derbyshire could be treats for fine days and the grand house clean up began..I used to feel very connected to a cycle that has made sense for 6 or 7 thousand years in Britain, the battening down for winter and getting out of crafts and other fireside entertainment. It was a very strange thing to come home from a walk in the woods and see the neighbours clustered round their huge flatscreens, lights blazing, no curtains drawn, wearing t-shirts, so presumably with the central heating on full and acting as though it was still summer…and we were the odd ones out! They were still on summer time, busy, busy, while we were winding down for winter…

So many things run 24/7 now, and obviously there’s a real upside to this, but I wonder how many people are still wanting some quiet time in the winter, the way your body isn’t fooled by the clock change but wants meals and sleep at the same time as yesterday… instead of changing the clocks, why not shorten the working day? Fewer traffic accidents, fewer days off with winter blues and coughs and colds from being overstretched and run down…more time together for families to bond properly? Very unrealistic with the financial climate the way it is, but really people work better in shorter bursts, lots of experiments back up that piece of common sense, people need work, rest and play…and then come summer that time could be used for gardening and playing games in the park and going swimming or walking…all the things that used to give people a good baseline of healthy activity, instead of special trips to the gym. Return to a way of life our genes remember even if we don’t…

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