After ten years living in the Southern Arizona desert and two in the mild urban Pacific Northwest, I had forgotten about snow. Well, not forgotten exactly. There had been flurries here and there, and a few times, fat, wet flakes that sank into the damp ground as they fell. It was mostly for decoration, it seemed. But snowfall accumulating over roads and roofs, cars and sidewalks was a memory from childhood, not something that still happened. Until last weekend. The gray Oregon winter was suddenly even more colorless, and the perpetual twilight of the earth’s tilt was replaced with a strange new light seeping in around my curtains in the middle of the night.
Skiers understand the power of a fresh coat of snow to magnify light– it’s enough to cause a condition known as”snow blindness”. In the city, though, it’s something else entirely. Streetlights bounced off blanketed roads and sidewalks, illuminating midnight to an eerie artificial glow. It reminded me of my lightbox, used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD, hilariously). It, too, casts a bright and not quite right looking light. Listen, it says, I’m not the sun, but I’m doing a pretty decent imitation, considering. And it helps. Light, it seems, helps the brain function. For people who deal with SAD, bright light corrects some faulty circuit brought on by seasonal shifts. Perhaps we’re like plants, with some of us needing copious bright light, and others doing just fine with shade.
I require full sun. A few other things seem to help me thrive, too– warmth, enough moisture but not too much, high-quality nutrients, a stable place to grow. Huh, maybe I am a plant. That explains a lot.