We all have different milestones that mark the changing ofthe seasons. For me, the start of winter isn't the first snowfall, and itcertainly isn't the solstice which heralds the official beginning of winter.Rather, I start thinking about winter the first day that I drive to work in thedark and then when I return home later that day in the dark. And that day seemedto come very early this year – sometime in September.Now you may say, as many of my friends do, that thinkingabout winter in late September just means I miss out on appreciating autumn in Minnesota– a truly beautiful season. And you would be right. But for me, the crisp fallmornings and the changing colors are only reminders of the gradual decrease ofdaylight and the long autumnal creep into darkness. By the time we set ourclocks back an hour I just want to eat a pot roast and bury myself under a downcomforter. Wake me when it starts to get light outside.Well guess what? It's starting to get light again.OK, it may not actually be getting any lighter yet, but itisn't getting any darker. Now, for the first time in months, I have the courageto look at the weather page in the daily newspaper once more. It may still say weonly have eight hours and 45 minutes of total daylight, but I know that minuteby minute, day by day, light will replace darkness. And I don't know about you,but this season, more than others in recent memory, I'm looking for any ray ofsunshine – literal or metaphoric – that I can find.I've had this fantasy – until just a few months ago –of spending my golden years of retirement following the sun. The summersolstice in June would find me in my backyard in Minneapolisand the winter solstice of December would place me somewhere in the southernhemisphere – preferably near a beach. Recent declines in my retirementportfolio have set that fantasy back a few years, but I'm not so certain nowthat my plan to escape winter shouldn't just remain a fantasy.Don't get me wrong, I can grumble and complain about the risingsnowfall totals and the brittle cold weather with the best of frozen-bloodedMinnesotans. But there is something about dramatically changing seasons that constantlyreminds us – no matter how dark the time – that this too shall pass.Of course that's easier to say now that we are moving out ofthe darkness and into the light. Ask me how I feel next September when I'magain driving to work in the dark and coming home in the dark.