Seeing the Sun

“Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 11:7 (ESV)

The days are getting longer as spring has almost arrived and summer is waiting backstage, waiting for it’s starring role in desert seasons.  It is wonderful to see the sun up in the sky longer. I soak up it’s rays and delight in having my shoes off outside, sitting bare-footed in the back patio letting the sun soak into my flesh.  Light is surely sweet.

I didn’t realize how much I took the sun for granted until I moved from sunny Southern California and took up residence in New England for five years.  I loved the four seasons, experienced large quantities of snow for the first time, and learned trees turned brilliant shades of orange and red in the fall.  I realized quickly that the sun in New England was a timid thing compared to the confident and overbearing sun I knew from California. The sun in New England frequently disappeared for long periods of time, the clouds guarding its location.  I counted seven weeks once when I didn’t see the sun in the sky. When the sun did come it was pleasant indeed for me to see the sun.

I didn’t realize how much my mood was affected by the sun shining its light on me.  For those weeks when the sun was gone I noticed that I felt down. The short days and no sun made it difficult to go outside.  I told my mom about my missing the sun and she bought me an infrared light for Christmas to help me cope with my sunlight withdrawal symptoms.  I opened it Christmas morning with my husband and plugged it in to try it out. It’s bold shining light blinded us, chasing all darkness from our small apartment.  Light is indeed sweet.  

I set it up in my kitchen and cooked meals with its light shining on me.  Placebo or not, it’s bright light felt good as I stirred the pot and washed dishes.  

When we moved to sunny Twentynine Palms in the desert I rejoiced in the sunshine.  No need for a fake-sun lamp here! But where the sun in New England was like a gentle deer, the sun in Twentynine Palms is a roaring lion.  It’s over abundance bakes anything that is left outside; toys fade in the sun, skin burns, and flowers wither. But complaining about the blazing hot sun of Twentynine Palms is like complaining about the cold winters of New England.  It’s the nature of the region I chose to live, I can’t do anything about it except to adapt. I invested in hats to ward off the sun’s relentless rays and drank lots of water. I learned that wearing light-weight long sleeves keeps you cool and helps with the adjustment of going from a 70-degree air conditioned building to outside where it could be 40 degrees hotter.

The days are getting longer here in the desert and the blazing sun is waiting for center stage and I couldn’t be happier.  I had a card from my mother -in-law who lives in New England. She mentioned they haven’t seen the sun in a few weeks, but that’s New England for you!

I shuddered as I put the card back into it’s envelope and remembered how bleak sunless days are and thanked the Lord and He placed me here in the sunny desert. 

Winter Winds

The winter winds bring us our version of cold-weather living in Twentynine Palms.  The wind brings character into our otherwise predictable and sometimes boring winter days of endless sunshine.  When the winds blow it is not with gentle breezes but with consistent gales. It rushes through the palm trees with a distinct rustling sound.  Flags flap and flutter, furling and unfurling, as the wind whips them around. Open trash can lids hit against the side of the can in an inconsistent rhythm.  It whistles through the holes in the stop sign poles and hums through the electrical wires. It is a cacophony and not a symphony of sound.

Being outside in the cold wind for any length of time is tough but doable.  At a park and rec flag football game during a recent windy evening, the sidelines were filled with parents wearing beanies, sweatshirts, and their biggest jackets.  Some had blankets over their laps as they were watching their sons and daughters play. A few even had a kerosene heater set up in front of them, cranking out heat at the highest setting.  These were the people who have lived in Twentynine Palms for a while. Those who just arrived to Twentynine Palms from much colder climates were watching the game in a sweatshirt and baseball cap.  

When the winds blow we prep our house for them.  Windows have to be shut throughout the house otherwise a layer of dust will be on the windowsill and surrounding furniture.  Garden flags need to be brought in because the wind will work them off their pole and blow them east to Wonder Valley. We had a shade umbrella for the children’s small outdoor picnic table but lost it because we didn’t bring it in and the wind lifted it and took it somewhere over night.  When setting out trash cans for the trash truck to get them the next day we learned from our more experienced desert-dwelling neighbors to put a large rock on the lids so the wind wouldn’t blow them open and carry our trash all over the desert.

Windy nights make for good sleeping weather.  The sound of the the wind blowing outside in the cold makes me thankful that I’m inside my warm home.  It makes me appreciate my blankets that much more. My young daughter doesn’t appreciate the windy nights.  The wind whips especially loud passed the corner of the house that forms her bedroom. She can’t sleep while the wind blasts past the outside corner of her bedroom.  My daughter usually ends up sleeping on the floor of my bedroom on those cold and windy nights when its windy chaos outside and warm peace inside.