All Snug and Warm by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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It’s winter and I have this atavistic urge to sleep. At first, I felt a bit guilty about diving back under the covers but I’ve come to look upon a long winter’s nap not as aberrant behavior but as being more in the natural order of things. After all, with daylight surrounding the winter solstice in such short supply, why not grab a few extra winks? Animals hibernate; gardens restore themselves; why not humans, too?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 85% of all mammals are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they (we) take short periods of rest—naps—during the day. That might be fine for some mammals, but somewhere along the way, the human variety of nappers got tagged as lazy, slothful folk. But they (OK, we) are not lazy people; in fact, we nappers are some of the smartest, most productive people out there. Winston Churchill was a napper. So was Salvador Dali. (In fact, he was a key napper: he held a set of keys in his hand when he lay down to tune out; when he heard them hit the floor, nap time was over.) Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Napoleon…all nappers. So, except for that nasty little French fellow, I’m feeling pretty good about the company I keep.

But this winter sleeping thing of mine goes well beyond mere napping. While I haven’t yet taken up full-fledged hibernation nor succumbed to seasonal affect disorder, I do feel like I might as well take advantage of the season—and the school holidays—and do a little extra snoozing. (In case you didn’t know, when I’m not musing, I’m a teacher and when school is in session, I’m up with—in fact, before—the sun so maybe I’m just catching up on time lost in the Land of Nod.)

But good as sleeping is, the jewel in the crown of slumber is dreaming. I wish someone out there would invent a dream recorder so I could rewind and review what my brain cooks up when I’m out like a light, but until that happens, I’m stuck with desperately trying to remember those ephemeral moments spent in an altered alpha state. I’ve given up trying to analyze my dreams; they’re beyond any rational pale and anyway, as Ray Charles once said, “dreams, if they’re any good, are always a little crazy.”

Seasonal songs and stories only make me yawn that much more. Wasn’t Scrooge fast asleep when he was visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future? Wasn’t baby Jesus sleeping in heavenly peace in that far away manger? And on that famous night before Christmas, weren’t mama and papa settling their brains for a long winter’s nap when they heard all that clatter up on the roof? (By the way, Musers, did you know that the great-great-grandson of Clement Clark Moore, author of the immortal “The Night Before Christmas,” has a home here in Chestertown? It’s true; I bet CCM was a napper!)

The great test will come, of course, on New Year’s Eve. I don’t stand a chance of making midnight. But never mind: I’ve made my peace with seasonal slumbering. So please just tiptoe past my door; I’ll be snug and warm in my bed, living my dreams.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. “A Place to Stand,” a book of his photographs, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. He is currently working on a collection of stories called “Musing Right Along.”

Letters to Editor

  1. Melinda Bookwalter says:

    Stunning photo! oh, and I enjoyed your essay too.

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