Seasonally Affected

It’s that time of year again, when the German sun sets at 4 p.m. in a blanket of gray, and even a candlelight lunch doesn’t seem like a ridiculous idea.

In this season I always think of a poem by my friend Etta, and today she’s agreed to share it with us. Thanks so much, Etta.



There is never enough light in winter.

Even in the room you chose

for its double window,

the sun barely gives enough

to read by.


I imagine you at your desk

scrambling to catch

what morning light there is.


You have made me think about winter.

how the sun is closer to us

but its light is less:

an inverse, illogical proportion

that my science can explain but not excuse.

A tilting on the axis,

a simple change of wavelength,

hardly seems enough to cause

a melancholy season.


Winter’s saving grace

is cloudless night,

each star a perfect prick

in blue; midnight’s moonlight

compensates for gray noon,

bleeding cold life

through your thick curtains.


Etta Jensen-Barnes

Etta and I have been friends since first semester of our freshman year, when we took poetry with the late, great Robert Kirkpatrick. After that class, I became an English major and never looked back.

With so little light, I’m grateful to have the tree up and the advent wreath to light each day. Did you know German tree stands hold no water? We learned that this week. It’s traditional to get your tree on December 24th and to keep it up until January 6. Trees are cut much closer to the time of sale, so they don’t really need watering during that short period, I guess. We brought our American tree stand, so we’re watering ours anyway. Some habits die hard.

I love this idea for a children’s Christmas tree over at elsiemarley, and also check out her list of Christmas activities to do with the kids. I especially like this woven ornament idea from the crafty crow.

Also, randomly:

An editorial about amazon’s sneaky new promotion. But hey, hardcover book sales  in stores are up!

Also, I’m making progress on the sleeves for this. Maybe, maybe it’ll be done in time for Christmas. But I’m not above wrapping it up in pieces. Watch me.

Also making progress on my novel and trying to get an old nonfiction writing project restarted. Back to work.

5 thoughts on “Seasonally Affected

  1. Emily, when you Mother was very young, we lived in a house that had no fireplace, so I built one. I used thin pieces of scrap lumber to make the frame, cover it with crdboard and then then applied crepe paper with a full size red brick pattern. It looked remarkably real and the childen hung their stockings there. Afterwards the fire place was partially dismantled and stored in the attic for another year’s use.

    GD Bob

  2. I love this post because the poetry is beautiful and so expressive and also because it is so informative for me and my WIP. Having visited Germany in spring and summer I need to hear that the sun sets at 4:00 in winter. I need to feel the grayness that the poem and your prose communicate so eloquently.

    • Hi Joyce–So glad you enjoyed it. I thought of you. And I directed Etta to your comment so she could read it herself 🙂 Have your German friends told you about gemuetlichkeit? Loosely translated “cozy time” in the winter but your friends could describe it better than I. Also, randomly, have they told you about the symbolism of shoelace colors among young people in the GDR? Interesting I heard about lately, but I think, again, that your German friends could describe it better.

  3. Merry Christmas Emily! My husband lived in Germany for a year when he was about 10 and he keeps saying he wants to go back to show me the Christmas markets. I would love that.

    • You really would love the Christmas markets. There are some that are dedicated to handmade things (although most of them have at least some handmade things). It’s a crafter’s dream 🙂 Merry Christmas to you, too!

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