family life

The play of light

“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.



3 thoughts on “The play of light”

  1. Sounds delightful.
    I’ve always loved sunlight and evening. There is such a beauty about both. If I had my way, my windows would have very little covering 24/7.

    I never think of anybody lurking about or looking in. They might, but this girl has no fear of that kind of thing. I have personal protection. 😉


    1. You’re a beach girl! I don’t really know what it is about open windows at night that bothers me. We once stayed at oceanside and all that was outside was the water, but I just didn’t like that dark blankness. Curtains feel like a cozy blanket then. 🙂


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