“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” Helen Keller, American writer
Other people may love to bask in the rays of their smart-phone light, to their own peril as it turns out. The dog and I prefer sun. Full on or filtered through white cotton curtains, we follow this play of light throughout the day — one of the joys of being a free-range dog or a free-lance journalist, which are oddly similar ways of life.
On a summer morning such as today, I get up early and start opening blinds and curtains on the shady side of the house as soon as I am dressed. Unless it’s safely clouded over, the windows on the back of the house stay closed until 1 p.m. — the light is too bright, too hot. Yet, come October’s chill, we’ll let it all pour in, warming the living room and kitchen a toasty 10 degrees or so by mid morning. Then, the dog will follow shafts of sun throughout the day, flopping here and there on the wooden floors in search of a bit of extra warmth and the peculiarly golden light of fall.
I didn’t do this daily dance of light and curtains when I was younger and we lived in a small house on the top of a high hill. There were no children and there was another dog and I worked elsewhere, largely unaware of the play of light through that dwelling. The blinds and curtains were simply open — all day, every day — and snapped tight as soon as the barest hint of dusk appeared. Snapped tight lest the black emptiness beyond the windows give me a creepy crawl running up the back of my neck. There was likely no one other than a bear or a deer or a raccoon looking in, but you never know.
Once, we toured a Quaker community in which every dwelling had a sun room, or passive-solar room as they called them. The light was almost overwhelming. It was a room in which to dry clothes or grow kumquats. Or a place to sit in smug contentedness in the middle of winter with something icy and fizzy in one’s hand.
I was glad to see such rooms. And, to overhear, on another day, a conversation between two 20 somethings about a grandmother who practiced near wizardry in managing the temperature of her home with curtains and blinds and light. “Who has time to do such a thing?” they wondered.
The dog and I both smiled.