Enjoy the outdoors, indoors
Winter is coming, but what does that mean to you? Does it mean short frosty days on the hill followed by cosy nights by the fire? Does it mean grumpiness at the dark evenings and a pining for spring? Or something deeper?
For many winter is not good news, and is a time of year that carries little cheer. The apt acronym SAD (seasonal affective disorder) – sometimes called the winter depression, or blues – is a condition that approximately one in fifteen people north of the Earth’s 50th parallel suffer from.
One of the things believed to alleviate it is embracing the outdoors. And it is this, amongst much else, which is the basis of The Light in The Dark. The author, Horatio Clare, spends much of the book identifying his own seasonal condition – a cycle of feeling low, with increasing severity, as the winters pass – and makes a personal exploration into the dark magic to be found even in the bleakest corners of the winter country, its sky and the human soul.
This is an intensely personal, introspective book – it is after all, a journal – and is perhaps more about one individual’s battle with the winter blues than winter as a thing in itself. But Clare is a fine writer and as such draws you into the experience, whether you identify with it or not. Initially, as a reader – who purely incidentally, is fortunate enough not to experience such feelings concerning the darker seasons – I found the book interesting and diverting, but longed for more of the winter magic I was craving. But as the book went on I did find myself identifying with aspects of Clare’s observations. I don’t mean this book made me depressed – that would be bad – more that it beautifully evokes the British winter but powerfully pairs it with the confused melancholy it can bring. Clare doesn’t miraculously conclude winter as actually a wondrous time; the book grasps for spring. But in so doing it takes you on a journey which might give comfort to those who suffer in winter, and understanding for those who don’t. Review by Simon Ingram
If you battle with the winter blues, The Light in The Dark may provide just the seasonal solace you need.