The two periods of night sleep in Ekirch's theory were called "first sleep" (occasionally "dead sleep") and "second sleep" (or "morning sleep") in medieval England. Ekirch finds that first and second sleep were also the terms in the Romance languages, as well as the Tiv of Nigeria: In French, the common term was premier sommeil or premier somme; in Italian,primo sonno; in Latin, primo somno or comcubia nocte. He found no common word in English for the period of wakefulness between, apart from paraphrases such as first wakingor when one wakes from his first sleep and the generic watch (in its old meaning of being awake). In French an equivalent generic term is dorveille (a portmanteau of the French words dormir (“to sleep”) and veiller (“to be awake; to be alert”)).Why am I thinking of this? Well, I'm here in this little house at the end of the road, in a fairly isolated community. It is winter - the hours of light are so few that I do wish to be awake for them but I also feel that I could sleep a lot more than I might normally. I feel like I could eat many more much smaller meals than is the norm as well - or even go twenty-four hours without eating. I would like to discover if there is really a 'natural' routine for all of these things or if it is all driven by history and society.
Ekirch suggests that, because members of modern industrialised societies, with late hours facilitated by electric lighting, mostly do not practice segmented sleep, they may misinterpret and mistranslate references to it in literature: common interpretations of the term "first sleep" are "beauty sleep" and "early slumber". A reference to first sleep in theOdyssey was translated as such in the seventeenth century, but, if Ekirch's hypothesis is correct, was universally mistranslated in the twentieth.
I will wake early as Ron leaves for work before 7 am. The dog typically waits by my bed while I sip coffee and read. Then I write a letter and we walk out in this beautiful cold world. Back for my first and Bella's second breakfast. Then I write, post a poem and photo on fb or write here. I might do some dishes, laundry, a bit of housework, walk to mail the letter and check my postbox. When Ron gets home we usually have a snack and chat about our days. Then one of us makes dinner while the other tools around on line or reads. We eat together and then decide if we are going to watch a show on line or read independently. I might phone the kids or knit a bit. Later we will have a cup of tea and then at a certain point one of us will make tracks to bathe and head to bed. It is all familiar and I like it. I didn't like our routine being disturbed when people were here but I liked the visits if that makes sense.
Now, as I ready myself for the second half of my adventure up here (even though it is really for a much longer time than I've been - more like the last two/thirds of my visit) I want to get down to work. I want to write and discover and be alone and what? I have no idea. That is what part of me wants - order and the joy of discipline and the fruits thereof. An other part of me wants to break my ties with all convention and see what is left.