Certain slants of light: pre-solstice end of term magic

We renovated the back third of our house last year, and one of the main design drivers was “more / bigger / better windows.” I’m keen on windows because I’m keen on natural light, as much of it as I can get, and then some. I’m prone to seasonal moodiness and sluggishness and self-medicate with sunshine.

We moved back home in the spring time, and as the hours of daylight grew longer, and the sun strode ever higher across the sky, I watched where the light landed, where it lingered, where it stayed. As spring moved in to summer, summer into fall, and now fall into winter, I’ve had to reacquaint myself with the light each time. This is a daily delight, a joy hard to express.

Emily Dickinson was a great watcher of light as well, writing “There’s a certain Slant of light, / Winter Afternoons– / That oppresses like the Heft / Of Cathedral Tunes” and while in the past, I have tended to agree, I’ve changed my mind.

Summer light pounds straight down from the sky, creates a tiny patch of hot brilliance on the thresholds and the sills. Heat radiates out into the room; the light blinds. Winter light, diffuse and a little watery, reaches deep into my house, touching all those corners and angles that never seen direct sunlight from March to November.  There’s something incredibly hopeful about a long sideways sunbeam reaching 20 feet past my kitchen door, stretching all the way into the dining, a patch of light long enough for me and the dog and the cat to lie down in, if we want. Warm but not hot, bright but not blinding.

So, dear Hook & Eye readers, as the night stretches ever further into the daytime, as your piles of grading get higher and your deadlines shorter, as your jackets get puffier and your gaze more inward, remember the winter light–not as strong or as strident, maybe, as it was in September, but softer, reaching more insistently but kindly into our rooms, gently warming, bright.

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