Enjoy the dark days

In Hong Kong, in early February, the world is gray enough to feel like winter. Sometimes the sky drips, and sometimes the fog lingers on the hills. It’s a brief sensation that will be forgotten by the month’s end. As a child of wintery climes, I take comfort in the cycle of seasons, and am glad of these dark days. Pulling on shirt, pants, socks, and hat before making tea is a rare requirement in this city. Having nights be cold enough that the cat wants to snuggle happens but a few times a year. I pad through the unlit house and have to turn on the light when I reach the kitchen as the window, though uncovered, adds no light to the room. These small changes and the brief moment they occupy remind me of our lives in other places, and I treasure them.

Hong Kong will not hold this weather for long, nor the feeling of winter. At seven thirty, as they always do, the cockatoos swirl through our small neighborhood squawking. Entirely tropical birds with incredibly loud opinions and silly plumage, they dispel the idea of true winter with their daily arrival. As the world lightens the density of foliage on the hillside and the park, unchanged from summer, makes it clear that this is no northerly place. The thermometer, were I to look, would say 16 degrees, hardly cold. And yet these are the days for fleeces and puffy vests, for wool hats and socks inside.

We take what we can get, and enjoy each moment we are aware of the variety.

With low light

My favorite time of day is the first quiet hour of morning, when the house is still dark, shades drawn, and even the cat would like to go back to bed.

One room of our house has windows on three sides, with shades we rarely close. This room, used for yoga, for storage, for guests, and for laundry, is where I spend the mornings, after making coffee in the dark of the kitchen. I love the transition from the quiet shadows of the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen to the open space of this room, to the view of Hong Kong and the sounds of the city waking. I love the light colors of morning, before the sun is beaming in, before the heat rises.

And then, of course, I love the transition back into the rest of the apartment. Coffee drunk I love stepping back into the dark of sleeping hours to slowly prepare myself for the day, to wake the house as much as I have woken myself. I try to do these things without urgency, the cleaning of cat box and dish, the laundry folding, the putting away of yesterday’s dishes. I try to keep the stillness and calm of those first few minutes even as the street noises get louder, even as the work hours draw closer.

I know why people meditate in the morning, when life is still. I know why they do yoga early, or run. There’s a lot of peace and less exhaustion than there will be later on. These moments without distraction, without external demands or personal hopes, are precious.

I do my shoulder PT in this room with grey light, before waking Tara. And write. And step back into the darkness to move on with the day.