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A Short Note in Praise of the Sun

11 November 2010 Seattle 7,416 views One CommentPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

I’m looking at you, bright eyes. I know I’m not supposed to, but I can’t help myself. You make me so very happy. You, with your white-hot complexion of hydrogen and helium (with trace amounts of oxygen, carbon, neon and iron), your irresistible magnetic field, and that special way you move (differential rotation! Oh, just stop it — no, don’t) — all these things add up to a romance. I can’t believe that I never really gave you much though before I moved to Seattle.

Seattleites don’t take the Sun for a fact. It’s always a special guest, the performer that’s never listed on the playbill. Before I moved here, I’d never imagined that the rising Sun could prove a surprise. From October to April, the weather forecasts are unenthusiastic about the Sun’s chances: “Cloudy with sun breaks.” “Times of rain and sun.” If the Sun shows, hey, great. And it’s because of this — the silver-gray curtain that hangs over this city some two-thirds of the year — that Northwesterners seem to prize and respect the Sun more than anyone else I’ve known. Even the Incas didn’t go this nutty for five lousy minutes of sunshine.

I’ve seen it happen. I’ve been buried deep in florescent-lit office buildings when someone runs into the cube farm and hollers, “Sun!” We leaped out of our seats, run down four flights of stairs like they were two, and poured outside with big, goofy grins. Spreading our arms like sails and turning our closed eyes to the furnace, we’d try to soak up as much Vitamin D as we could before the clouds slammed shut once again. And we rarely felt shorted. Any amount of sunshine was welcome and relished.

After I went freelance in 2008, I thought I’d be able to enjoy twice as many of those sunny moments, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Without someone else around to exhort me to run outside, the temptation to stay inside and work all day is strong. Sometimes I’ll do the Spalding Gray thing: I’ll sit by a window with my MacBook and allow the sun to creep across my lap, “warming my writing hand.” But that’s not the same as going outside to worship the sun — to open your arms before the light of the world, and to allow those life-giving atoms to filter through your clothes and skin.

This isn’t the most eloquent or poetic ode to your brilliance, my beloved Sun, but it is heartfelt. I was going to fill up this letter with genteel song lyrics and hard science, but you’ve heard all that stuff before, perhaps as often you’ve heard these feeble words of gratitude. Nevertheless, It’s good to have you out there, and I’m sorry for all those years while living in Las Vegas that I cursed you as a jackhammer. It was just the dehydration talking.

I would continue this mash note, but you’re shining like crazy right now. I’ll be damned if I allow my writing hand to have all the fun.

Geoff Carter


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One Comment »

  1. It is very strange to travel to L.A. (or your own Las Vegas) and be surrounded by people who consider the sun a nuisance. Absence makes the heart, etc.

    Bonus points for the Spalding Gray reference. I miss that man so much. I like to think that he and David Foster Wallace hang out a lot now, exchanging thoughts on how the afterlife has both delighted and disappointed them.

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