By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Dec 22, 2009 at 12:32 PM

The sun set in Milwaukee yesterday at 4:20 p.m. The first official day of winter, it was also the "shortest" day of the year.

Tomorrow, the sun will set at 4:21 p.m. It might get colder in the next few months, but it won't get darker any earlier.

That simple reminder, like starting the countdown until pitchers and catchers report, gives me hope this week.

Winter doesn't bum me out like it used to. I hate shivering in blistering cold like everyone else, but I really believe Milwaukeeans appreciate summer more because of our frigid winters. I enjoy a few blizzards in the early part of the season, digging out alongside my neighbors and sliding all over the street as the "not safe to stop" law dictates dubious traffic light behavior.

What gets me down in the dumps, however, is the seemingly omnipresent darkness. When I leave the office, the parking lot is cold and dark. When I get home, I don't want to step back outside, either, I just want to put on pajamas and curl up on the couch. I find myself longing for those warm summer nights, when I could put the baby to bed, then head out for a nice run -- after 8 p.m., when dusk just starts to shroud the city.

Now, daylight is fleeting, gone before I have a chance to appreciate. Winter in Milwaukee just makes me cold and tired.

But from here on out, it's getting better. Tomorrow, for example, Milwaukee will see an even nine hours of daylight. We'll gain another three minutes by New Year's Eve, and before know it, the sun won't set until after 5 p.m.

In only 12 weeks or so, on March 14, the clocks will spring forward into my beloved Daylight Savings Time. And after that, summer isn't far away at all.

I know I'm grasping at straws, and I'll likely feel less optimistic in the middle of February, weary and buried under dingy gray snow. But let's take what we can get.

Tomorrow won't be as dark as today, Milwaukee. The worst is officially behind us.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.