I have before me information of such import, I fear for my well-being. Men in mirrored sunglasses, at this very moment, are parked outside my house in dark vans, aiming delicate electronics in my direction in an attempt to discern how much I know.
I know it all, ’70s-looking super spies. And it changes everything.
Every day, I engage in the same conversation with different people, many of whom I don’t even know.
“Sure is cold today.”
“Yep. But it’s the early dark that really gets you.”
“You got that right. But the days will be getting longer in a couple weeks.”
“Yes, there’s that. But even so, I think I’ll go jump off a bridge.”
“As will I. It was nice meeting you.”
Well, here’s the news, my depressed and sun-deprived friends. You don’t have to wait for the winter solstice to begin that second-by-second march toward longer days — it’s already begun.
For all practical purposes, anyway.
This awesome scientific discovery, wrested from the ice near the planetary poles, came to me on Sunday, which happened to be a very special day. Sunday, you see, was the day when the sun set earlier than it will all year. Depressing.
But it’s also magnificent, because that means on Monday, the sun stuck around a few seconds longer and on Tuesday, it stayed a bit longer still.
Don’t you see it, my chalk-white friends? For all practical purposes, the days are already getting longer because the sun sets later and later every day, shattering the old paradigm that you have to wait until Dec. 21 to start that countdown.
I know what you’re thinking. But Mike. The days aren’t really getting longer because sunrise comes along a little later, too, which means that the days are still shortening, and will continue to shorten until the solstice.
Well, aren’t you in a mood.
When you get right down to it, who really cares what time of morning the sun shows its head? Unless you happen to be a vampire or a rooster, sunrise means nothing! Who wants to see what’s out there in the winter morning, anyway? Frosted windshields that need to be scraped, icy roads that need to be navigated and lumbering school buses that will stop 97 times in front of you on your drive to work.
The fact is, while only 38 percent of each day is lit by the sun, the far ends of those days — the important ends — are getting longer as of Monday.
But Matt, you simper, in that annoying way you have. Does it really matter? When it all comes down to just a handful of seconds and while the temperatures are still down in the single digits, should we really care about this important scientific breakthrough you came up with on your own, with absolutely no help at all from the National Weather Service Facebook page?
At which point, I slap you on each cheek with a leather glove.
Knave! Of course it matters. EVERYTHING matters. When you live in a place where winter begins in late October and doesn’t end until May, you wrap your frozen fingers around any nugget of hope that comes your way. If you don’t want to end up on hard drugs by New Year’s Day, you seize even the faintest glimpse of light winking waaaay down there at the end of the tunnel.
For some, it’s baseball’s spring training (71 days until pitchers and catchers report.) For others, its Groundhog Day (54 days) when a waddling whistle-pig will relate how much winter is left, and will even give you stock tips if you’re drunk enough.
For some, it’s the first day of calendar spring (100 days) and for a few of us, it’s March 12 (92 days) which is the birth date of some truly great men, including myself, Jack Kerouac and porn star Ron Jeremy.
After you get back from Wikipedia, confirming the above birth dates, you must join me in celebrating the fact that today, the sun will set at 4:29 p.m., whereas it set much, much earlier, at 4:28 p.m., the day before.
You’re welcome. Now, come down off that bridge rail and let’s go pick up a card for Ron Jeremy. His birthday celebrations are just awesome.
Mike/Matt/Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. He so hates winter that he’ll grasp at any straw, even a straw man. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.