BIDWELL: Personal Reflection on Sunlight
Winter Sunlight on the Prairies
by Charles M. Bidwell, PhD
November, 2001

Winter's sun comes late in your day. You rise in the dark and prepare for your day's activities. You even get to work in the dark, as if someone has stolen the sun. If you can venture out of doors at your lunch break you will find that the sun is making a brief appearance. Relish it.

The summer sun shines down as a street light does. The winter sun shoots into your space and windows like a search light. It is clear, crisp, direct and in-your-face. It reverberates off the snow and makes you squint. It is delightful.

The winter sunlight is benign. It does not often produce a sunburn, except when you are skiing all day and the sun's light is doubled from being reflected off the snow's white surfaces. The summer sun on the other hand is something to be protected against. Its stronger, nearer ultraviolet light burns quickly and we often need to take steps to avoid long exposures to it. Not so the winter sun.

I am warmed by the winter sun's brilliance on the frosty days of my prairie life. I take the sun for granted in the other months--an almost constant companion in my days--but I treasure its presence in the winter.

Winter's sun goes early in your day. Before you leave work, it has disappeared and night's lights accompany your homeward trek. Winter's sun is precious and scarce in the north. It gives cause for mid-day celebrations. Relish it.