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Winter in northeast Wisconsin upsets many who live here. Weeks of numbing bitter cold, hazardous driving conditions and frustrating feelings of hibernation in one’s interiors, can fuel depression, angst and loneliness. This cabin fever is magnified now by the pandemic, restricting us all from venturing out to socialize.
Yes, it is wintertime in Wisconsin. It seems there are weeks where my relationship with sun is simply forgotten, out of mind.  The leaden, overcast skies hang low over short days, bookending darkness to greyness back to darkness…

BUT, when the sun does shine, it casts dramatic, specular angled light that defines the season.

Take Notice

In winter, I see the quality of light as it graces walls, floors and objects.  Interiors look different in autumn and winter- more defined.  Shadows are extended on the floors and  stretched onto walls in warm hues of pale yellow. The  gentle golden light of the day’s  approaching conclusion is with us much longer than in the warmer summer months.  This lovely glow, with it’s long shadows, beginning earlier in the afternoon, brings on feelings of contemplative melancholy in me.

winter light on wood door
triangle winter light on wall and floor

Why?

The light IS different in the autumn and winter months.  The earth has an axial tilt, and the tilt causes the seasons by changing the angle to sun in the sky.  As the angle changes, the amount of light per unit area changes.  It spreads out when the sun is lower.  At that steeper angle, it has to push though more of the atmosphere to get to me.  When the sun is lower, the air between me and the sun is thicker, so it absorbs more of the light and changes the color with refraction.  The sun is redder in the morning and late afternoon during the autumn and winter months.

winter light on wall clock

Take a walk

The brilliance of winter light on a sunny afternoon can be observed in places that traditionally might be considered unattractive.  A factory parking lot in December reveals itself as a real life canvas of high contrast, dappled light in complimentary colors.   This is a location that  might routinely be visually dismissed during other times of year.

factory parking lot in December
Long shadows define outdoor scenes as the variance of light and dark patterns are highlighted on white snow.
winter sunlight through slats on upper porch.

Fleeting splendor

The late afternoon slow dance of low golden light that falls on the corner of my couch, parallels the passing of the day.  The sad beauty of seeing time pass reveals the aching awareness of impermanence.  These are the days I will return to, one day in the future, only in memories.

 

“How did it get so late so soon. It’s night before it’s afternoon.  December before it’s June.  My goodness, how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”   – Dr. Seuss

 

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