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Tina Hartell

The Dark Days are here. With only 10.5 hours between sunrise and sunset, our days will continue to shrink until we’re at the yawn-inducing sub-9 hours in December. There’s a noticeable intensity out there. It’s a different intensity than the manic daylight-filled days of June where six hours of sleep seems more than enough and we marvel at the tremendous amount we can fit in each day.

The animals are moving – driven by the intense need to get fat and find a cozy place to sleep. I can relate. These are the days where I seriously consider eating a grilled cheese before crawling under the down comforter at 8pm and where 11 hours of sleep seems perfectly reasonable.

The birds are flocking to the meadows to eat the grass and wildflower seeds. Turkeys and deer are moving through the oak and beech thickets finding the fatty acorns and beechnuts. And the squirrels are eating the decorative corn right off the porch.

And I don’t even want to get into the mouse situation which, by all accounts, is out of the control perhaps due to two years of long-lasting snowpack where mice get to hide from predators. Suffice to say, we can’t keep up.

This has been a great year for apples. The two apple trees outside the house were bursting, and I was eyeing the harvest with interest. But we missed our chance because we woke up one morning to apple branches on the ground and claw marks in the tree.

A black bear came and, in one night, ate probably 75% of the apples in both trees. And while apple trees are notoriously tough (they can survive getting browsed almost down to the ground), this bear chewed branches right off, pruning the tree for us.

But that’s alright. The bear needs the apples more than we do and besides, we can get more. Not to mention, there’s no fruit I love more right now than these late-season raspberries. Long live the Dark Days!