Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Explore our latest coverage of environmental issues, climate change and more.

Homeyer: Dark Day Doldrums

Despite the stretch of warm days we’ve had this fall, winter’s just around the corner. And even though I love skiing and snowshoeing, I dread the short days and frequent lack of sunshine. Cold, gray days with mixed precipitation make being outdoors less than inviting. But I’m an outdoors kind of guy, so my somewhat counter-intuitive solution to all this is simply more work in the garden – doing cleanup and pruning – and planning next year’s garden.

I planted lots of tulips this fall - 50 pink and 50 cream colored – and I love anticipating what all those tall tulips will look like when they bloom next May.

I notice that my pink hybrid magnolia, the one called Jane that’s going into its second winter – is loaded with flower buds.

And I can’t wait to see what will happen with the Kousa dogwood I planted this year. It’s supposed to be a Zone 5 plant so only time will tell if it’ll survive in my Zone 4 garden.

I work on the woodpile or in the garden until dusk, then come indoors and find myself turning on lights, lots of lights.

Our ancestors depended on candles or oil lamps, and I wonder how they dealt with the darkness. I’ll bet they had darker houses than mine and went to bed earlier. If I depended on candles I made myself, I imagine I’d be a bit stingy about using them.

I do feel a little guilty about turning on the colored lights I’ve strung over trees and shrubs around my house. Growing up we only had a few outdoor holiday lights, and just ran them from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. But back then, the bulbs in outdoor lights consumed either 3 watts or 7 watts each. Now an entire string of LED lights only uses 5 watts, and I string them up indoors, too.

But my very best trick for making it through the dark days of winter is eating my way through the garden produce I’ve frozen, dehydrated or stored in a cool place.

I just harvested the last of my kale and lots of Brussels sprouts. And I try to make my late garden bounty last as long as possible. I stretch it out in a daily ration, and I eat it fresh as long as I can.

A grated winter salad made with carrots, fall radishes and Daikon with vinaigrette dressing – now that’s a sure-fire cure for dark day doldrums!

Henry Homeyer is an author, columnist and a blogger at the
Latest Stories