As I write this, on December 21, it is the longest night of the year. And, of course, the shortest day of the year just ended.
In the Pacific Northwest, where I live, December and January are often called “The Big Dark.” The short days are often cloudy — with rain or snow. Direct sunlight can vanish for days, and some people sink into a severe depression.
I’m lucky, as I don’t get depressed when the nights get long, and, in fact, I take great comfort in the fact that the days will start getting longer this week.
By June 20, 2022, the sun will rise in Portland, Oregon at 5:21 a.m. — but light will appear in the eastern sky shortly after 4 a.m. Sunset will be 9:03 p.m., but streetlights will not click on until almost 10 p.m.
There’s more than six months between now and the Summer Solstice, but I, like many people, have a magic carpet that makes the months between now and summer a breeze.
That magic carpet is, of course, a car or truck. If it’s raining in Portland, there’s a good chance it may be sunny — albeit cold — a two-hour drive away on the east side of the Cascade Mountains.
Or, I could drive to the Oregon coast to watch huge waves rise out of the gray, heaving Pacific Ocean and pummel the rocky, fir-clad headlands.
There is joy and beauty in every day, and it’s our job to find it. Just getting behind the wheel, tuning in some good music and heading down the road is a good start. A car gives us the amazing freedom to create our our adventures.
In the car world, winter marks the start of another exciting year. Arizona Auction Week is less than a month away, and few things in life are better than stealing a few days of desert summer in January — while admiring some of the best cars on the planet.
I will see many friends in Scottsdale, and their smiles and conversation will warm me right through. I’ll have to stop at a drugstore and buy some sunscreen.
And then the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is in March. In recent years, younger car collectors have made the Amelia Island Cars & Coffee a celebration of new kinds of collector cars — Japanese cars from the 1980s and 1990s are everywhere.
I remember just a few years ago, when it seemed like everyone in the car world wondered whether younger people still cared about cars. Well, there is no doubt about that anymore.
For many of these younger collectors, a tuner Japanese car is the magic carpet they’ve dreamed about since they were kids.
I like to watch them drive along Amelia Island’s winding roads — the sun gleaming off JDM metal and the exhausts buzzing out a cheerful racket. A lot of those car people have embraced our life, and many of them are already discovering other cars, such as Porsches — and other sports cars.
I really believe that cars and trucks saved many, many people from total despair during the ongoing COVID pandemic. When the pandemic struck, I decided to spend at least one day a week on a road trip to a remote place.
Getting out on that road, especially when it snaked away from the city and into the countryside, felt like stepping from a cold room out onto a warm, sunlit patio. Simple, roadside picnics felt like adventures.
This winter will end before we know it. While it’s here, get out there and drive a new road or two — even if you’re driving a winter beater. This wretched pandemic will end as well. If you’re vaccinated and boosted, you can feel a lot of confidence in the future.
Each day will be a little longer, and I plan to get behind the wheel and drive toward the light.
Have a wonderful Holiday Season and a great 2022!