Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Bright Sunshiny Day

Bright, sunshiny days are a precious thing in these parts, especially in the spring, coming off our long, dark winter. It didn't feel any wetter this year than normal, although they tell us we broke rainfall records in March. In any event, we've had a run of clear skies here on the site of a former rain forest these past couple weeks, and no one reacts more joyfully to the sun than we do.

My family moved to the Pacific Northwest in the 70's from Athens, Greece, by way of Columbia, South Carolina, places where sun is like the wallpaper. We now found ourselves in a place where people never saw the sun, but talked about it all the time, especially when it hid behind our classic low hanging, wall-to-wall, drizzly cloud cover: a damp duvet of drizzle, alternating with slant-y rain, that tends to envelop us for a good nine months of the year. I don't really notice it any longer, but back then it seemed like I was in a conversation about the sun a dozen times a day, even amongst my cohort of middle schoolers, who seemed to speak endlessly of the sun they once saw in Hawaii, or joking about the strange UFO they caught sight of between some clouds, or talking about summer plans which always involved just "being" in the sun, a concept that blew my mind.

And when the sun did come out, Wow! I didn't know there was so much skin in the world. Even when the sun isn't accompanied by warmth, bare legs and arms and toes and shoulders emerged like the sun itself, often blindingly, due to the large population of families of Scandinavian decent.

Perhaps most stunning, a thing that still gets me, is that people here eat in the sun. That's right, they'll drag their table into the full sun, even on hot days, and sit down to a plate of food.

When the sun is out, every office worker who can get away with it, from the lowliest secretary to the CEO, will miraculously have a lunch meeting scheduled "out of the office and too far away to make it back, so I'll see ya' tomorrow."

This is all by way of emphasizing that sunny days, especially during the school year, are special and there is a lot that kids from other places have probably known since they were infants that we're still figuring out. For instance, the kids didn't believe me when I told them that magnifying glasses could be used to start fires, so I had to demonstrate last week, not getting all the way to flames, but even the thin wisps of smoke were convincing. And, of course, we're forever reminding children that their irritability might be cured by standing in the shade or drinking a little water or donning a hat with a brim.

Last week we had some of our more plentiful resources out on the workbench -- wine corks and old CDs -- along with glue guns. I'd put them out as building materials largely because we have lots of them and it's the end of the year. It was a sunny day and our workbench sits in the nice deep shade of a couple large cedars so it wasn't until the kids emerged into the sun bearing their creations that they began to notice the reflective properties of the CDs, a thing of great fascination. They began calling their creations flashlights, standing at a distance, then bouncing reflections of the sun back into the shadows to "light up" the shady work area. 

Or they became lasers we could use to carefully target one another in a slow motion scene from Star Wars.

There was a lot of excited conversation about why and how it worked, tips on where to stand and how to angle the reflective surface, children teaching one another, passing along their newly discovered knowledge one to the next as their friends emerged from the shadows to find that they too held a flashlight in their hands.

I imagine this is all old hat to children who live where the sun is wallpaper, but for us it is pure magic and joy, the kind that only comes from a bright, sunshiny day in the Pacific Northwest.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having grown up in Seattle and now living in Denver, your post made me smile. I actually miss the rain A LOT. People here complain if it rains more than 30 minutes. :) Thanks for the memory jogger.