Fladungen sits at fifty degrees, thirty minutes north latitude.
That's further north than I've ever lived before. It's the latitude of Winnipeg, or Vancouver or Kiev. And while central Germany has a milder climate than Manitoba or the middle Ukraine, it shares the same long summer days... and long winter nights.
We're coming now into the dark corner of the year. Sunrise today was 7:53; by that time I've been up for an hour (Claudia may have been up for two or three), Alan is out the door to school, and we're getting the other two boys ready for kindergarten. Sunset will be at 4:20, which is just around the time I bring David and Jacob home. (Pick them up from kindergarten at 4:00, but we sometimes take a roundabout route home: looking at chickens, and such.) The day is just eight and a half hours long, and every day is about two minutes shorter than the last. The noon sun peaks around 20 degrees altitude -- less than a quarter of the way up the sky.
The solstice is 24 days off. By that time the day will be less than eight hours long; Alan will go to school in full darkness, the other boys an hour later just as the sun is rising. The sun will spend most of the day just a few degrees above the horizon, peaking at just sixteen degrees. (Hold your hand at arm's length, make a fist, then spread your thumb and pinky out. Put your pinky on the horizon: keep it there and tilt your thumb up as high as it will go. Your thumbnail is the winter sun.)
I mentioned circadian rhythyms a couple of posts back. I also seem to have an annual rhythym, though it's less clearly defined -- fewer data points! November is usually a blue-ish month for me; the rapidly declining light levels are a suspect, but I've never been able to tell for sure. Possibly this will become more clear in the next few weeks.
Yes, several hundred million people -- including most of Russia, most of Canada, and every single person in Britain and Scandinavia, -- live further north than this. What can I say? It's all about what you're used to. I don't love the low sun and short days. It's not awful, but it gives me a faint unpleasant shut-in feeling. I'm already looking forward to the solstice, when we'll turn that corner and head back towards the light.