Daylight Go Away Time creeps me out. I look up from my desk and it’s afternoon outside. Five minutes later, I look up and it’s just total blackness out there. And it’s still afternoon. Hey, who turned off the lights? Who stole the day? I feel robbed.

Outside my picture window, it’s so black that my reflection stares back at me. It’s not a pleasant sight. It’s shocking, actually. I look like a mug shot of myself—pallid, old, sullen and as if I’d rather be anywhere else.

What I’d like to be is in bed. It certainly feels like it’s time for bed, what with that five o’clock midnight going on outside — reading or watching the royal family on The Crown bumble around trying to stay in business. But going to bed would be giving up on the day and I don’t want to be a quitter.

Also, there’s ghosts. I don’t even believe in ghosts but the ghost at my house doesn’t care. The ghost at my very old house is a man ghost or at least he sounds like a man. He clomps around the little sitting room downstairs, the oldest part of the house, in what sounds like heavy work boots, as if he’s casing the joint.

I only heard him once, many years ago, but really, these things stay with you. I was sitting at my desk in the bedroom just off the little sitting room, at 10 or 11 at night, when I heard these heavy footfalls. Stomp, stomp, stomp, for many minutes. I thought it was a robber who had assumed no one was home — the car wasn’t in the driveway, my husband had taken it out for the evening — or maybe the sketchy guy who’d rented our house the previous winter, back to look for the marijuana-weighing scales he’d left behind.

When I went into the sitting room, no one was there. Wooooooo.

I never told my children about the ghost for fear of scaring the bejesus out of them. But two years ago, my younger daughter, now grown, was taking a bath in the bathroom just off the sitting room and heard him: same stomping around in the same area. Unlike her mother, she’s unflappable, almost impossible to startle.

“Oh, I knew we must have a ghost,” she said and went off to tell her friends.

I should say here that neither event took place in the dark days between November and March, and that when I heard the ghost it was the middle of summer. But I never think about the ghost during summer. It just seems more likely that he’ll show up now, given how many more hours of night he has to work with.

I never thought about ghosts when I lived in a city. I think even people who believe in ghosts know that there are no ghosts in apartment buildings. Apartment buildings are too new. Also, ghosts don’t like noisy places. Ambulance sirens, honking cars, the upstairs neighbor’s kids bouncing basketballs on your ceiling — all of these scare away ghosts. Ghosts like quiet places, old places. Country places. Everybody knows that. That’s just science.

I never thought about how short the winter days were when I lived in a city either. I barely noticed them. I think my cluelessness had a lot to do with the fact that it’s never really dark in a city. There are streetlights and huge office buildings with every light inside ablaze even though everyone inside has gone home. You can barely see the stars in all that ambient glow. After you’ve lived there awhile, you don’t even try. That’s a pity. One of the real pleasures of living in the country is looking up at the stars and marveling at the different moons, from fingernail-thin to round and fat. When it’s full and the sky is clear, the darkness isn’t quite so black.

But mostly, the darkness is so thick it almost has a density, as if you could cut into it with a knife, except you might hurt yourself because you can’t see a foot in front of you and you might slice a finger. If I forget to leave my porch light on after five o’clock in the afternoon, the trip from my car to the back door is treacherous. I take tiny steps so as not to walk into the walkway lights which are solar-powered, which means they have no power at all this time of year. I try to avoid the hydrangea bush stretching my arms out in front of me, feeling for the porch stair railing. I look like I’m practicing my audition for The Miracle Worker, for the Helen Keller part.

But then January comes. The days get longer, a little each day but enough so you notice. I feel like a very hungry person who’s finally being fed, even if it’s a morsel at a time. And the light is different — brighter, warmer, not the pale light of November. That’s my contention anyway. I was talking about this January light to a friend recently, and she said that the sunlight may seem brighter, but that’s because there’s usually snow on the ground in January and it reflects the light.

She’s probably right, but I’m pretending she didn’t say it. January makes me feel as if spring is around the corner, and if that’s delusional, so be it. There’s hope in delusion, and I’m sticking to my story.

Jenny Allen lives in West Tisbury. She is the author of Would Everyone Please Stop?