15:30, or 3:30 in American parlance. That's the time in recent days I have decided to close the curtains in our home. It's not that it ever really got "light" outside, but by half past three, it's dark enough that our neighbors can easily see inside, and we'll have none of that.
I am somewhat proud of myself this year, because that overwhelming desire to have a glass of wine or bottle of beer every evening has yet to set in.
Last year, I easily found out why alcoholism reins supreme in northern Europe. The pressure of light deprivation makes alcohol consumption an easy out. It's not that I became a drunk in anyway; it's that I consumed more during the winter and then, as soon as the snow melted away and the sun came back out, the consumption noticeably stopped.
If Estonian summer, with its infinite possibilities of endless daylight and open terrain, embodies opportunity for self-realization and enjoyment, winter is the opposite. Instead of wanting to be outside, you find yourself asking, what's the point of leaving the house at all, unless it's to buy some more food and ... alcohol? The days of late November and early December pass by into a fog of grayness that brings to mind the smokey moors of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
I begin to wonder if my generation's lust for extreme experiences has manifested itself in some peculiar way by my choice to domicile in a northern country. Some guys bungee jump off bridges; some ladies pierce their tongues and eyebrows; I currently live in the environmental equivalent of a submarine.
At the moment, I am not exactly happy in the, "warm up the feijoada and grease me up, it's time for Carnaval!", kind of way, but I am also not depressed in the, "I wanna listen to the Depeche Mode album alone!" kind of way, which seems to be a common condition among many Estonians. I feel pretty normal. Normaalne. See. I have adjusted, and with limited need for alcohol or chocolate to balance my outlook.
In fact, I feel more creative than usual. I feel like writing and reading and making mixes of my favorite tunes. Maybe we will even steal away some time to go to Pöff, the Black Night's Film Festival. This year it is taking place also in Tartu and in such far flung Estonian locales as Kärdla and Jõhvi.
Yes, in a time of endless darkness, the dividing line between sleeping and waking is even more blurry. Films taking on superior meaning. If it feels like you should be tucked in and in bed by 7.30 pm, then how exactly do you feel at 9.30 or 11.30 pm? I'll tell you how you feel, you feel like eating gingerbread, drinking glögg, and watching Singing with the Stars [Laulud Tähtedega]. Oh wait, Glögg has some alcohol in it.
Well, while Itching for Eestimaa does not condone alcoholism, it does condone the judicious use of glögg, movies, and other guilty pleasures to see you through the darkest time of the year. What special recipes do you have for making it through what can be a trying time?