Yesterday was the winter solstice, meaning, it was the shortest day of the year. In Auckland up North the sun rose at 7:35 in the morning, down in Invercargill it rose at 8:31.
Me and The Man talked about it, and how although it's winter solstice, it doesn't actually feel that bad this year. Previous years I remember really taking notice, and looking forward to days getting longer again.
But not this year.
And The Man asked, "Do you think it's to do with having a warm house?"
And I looked at him, and a 'lightbulb' went off in my head.
Yeah, I think that's it.
This is the first winter in New Zealand where we've been able to wear t-shirts in the house in the evening. The log burner's cracking and we strip layers off, relaxing. The 'winter blanket' we've used in all our houses so far, we haven't taken it out once. It's folded away, sitting idly.
The house never gets cold enough for us to need it.
I can only imagine what it'll be like after a heat pump gets installed next Wednesday, and then underfloor insulation the Friday after that.
Even the kids have now done a month straight without colds. It may not sound like much, but we've had pretty rough winters so far, so even if we're burning through over $250 worth of firewood a month in a house that has leaky joinery and substandard insulation - compacted in the ceiling, none underfloor - I think it's a price I am willing to pay to have us warm and healthy.
To think of it, $250 is equivalent to having two days off, sick, a month.
And I can only imagine how, gradually, as we fix the house up, it'll stay warmer for less. Our heating bills will become smaller, our indoor temperature consistently higher, the joinery less drafty.
I haven't got a photo like that from evening-time, but if you imagine the same scene without daylight streaming in through a window - curtains closed, lights on - then this is what 19:10 looks like in our house, usually. Boys in their t-shirts, reading their books. The Kid is his pyjamas, of course :)
Man how I love we're able to do that.