People who study evolutionary biology might hazard a guess …. But I’ve been wondering how long it could take for humankind to get over our desire to sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light. We change hemispheres, and it doesn’t take long for our body to adjust to night being day, and vice versa. Some of us adjust to long-run nightshifts, and function pretty well. But given the opportunity, it’s back to waking with the sun.
For Mani and me, the shortening of the day, even more than its cooling, produces the strong urge to head to the ‘other side’, where the light is extending.
Of course, these musings come from visiting the land of the midnight sun. We sailed north as the calendar moved into spring – and daylight accelerated its extension until dusk was morphing into dawn. Magic.
Then a stroll on deck … these are around 10.45pm.
And most magic of all …. A midnight concert at the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø.
In, in the twilight.
We were sitting in the pews. A young woman had come to the front and made the normal call on cellphones. And disappeared. Then from the organ loft behind us, cello and organ in an ethereal fugal arrangement of a Samis song. The sound slipped into the back of our heads and surrounded us. Then the young woman’s soprano lifted in a Greig song. Another organ piece. Then a pause while we started to breathe again and shuffle and snuffle as an audience does. And the trio were up front, the organ exchanged for a piano … and a gently mixed programme of folksong arrangements and of course more Greig.
Out, in the dawn.
And still wondering about how people sleep and wake… Locals told me they do all sorts of outdoor things in the midnight sunlight – and save their sleeping for winter. Are they differently adapted? Or teasing me.