Storing Up the Sunlight

Canalside in Voorschoten

High on my priority list these days is getting outside and enjoying the fresh air and warm weather.
And of course, the sunshine.
I realize that statement isn’t particularly earth-shattering.
It is summertime, after all. Why wouldn’t I?
For those of us raised in the northern hemisphere, we’re accustomed to equating summer with the months of June, July and August (May and September, too, in some places).
Summer means sunshine, nice(r) weather, being outdoors.
Growing up in upstate New York back in the US, I loved how summer evenings stayed light until 9:00. I’d spend most of my summer days outside with friends: swimming and/or sunbathing at the pool, going for hours-long bike rides, playing various games and sports around the neighborhood.
Now I live much further north. How far north, you ask? 
Maps can be deceiving, trying to visually represent land from a three-dimensional, 
spherical planet on a flat page. 

Stockholm Waterfront in Summer

We may not be as far north as the Scandinavian countries, which most people equate with being truly north and having long days in summer and dark days in winter.

But we’re pretty close.

Let’s just say that my own father was surprised to learn that Den Haag is much further north than the northernmost point in Maine (which was his guess).
We’re further north than Vancouver, Quebec, Calgary or even St. John’s Newfoundland. 
For the record, we’re on par with London, Berlin, Warsaw and Irkutsk Russia.
Summer nights remain light until well past 10:30 pm, with dusk hanging on even later. Similarly, the sun starts streaming in the windows 5:30-ish these days. It would probably help to wear one of those sleep eye masks you see in movies, but since neither Oli (the dog) nor Ava (the cat) would deign to be caught dead in them, I can only say ‘Thank goodness for thick curtains and blinds.’
Of course the downside (and yes, you know there always seems to be a downside) is that in winter the days are much shorter. By the winter solstice, the sun doesn’t rise here in The Netherlands until almost 8:30 in the morning, and vanishes before 4:30 in the afternoon. It’s even worse for our brethren living to the north.
Nowadays when I hear the word ‘winter,’ my first thought is darkness, not snow.
So back to my summer priority list. Hovering near the top is this: Get out and enjoy as much daylight as possible.
If the sun is shining (or even hinting that it might), I try to arrange my day in such a manner as to maximize my time outside.

Nighttime comes Early in Winter

Take right now, for instance.
I’m heading out the door to take Oli on a nice long walk in a nearby park.
There’s been a break in the clouds and the sun’s peaking out.
If we hurry, we can get in some exercise before it rains.

Like a squirrel who wisely stores up nuts to prepare for winter scarcity, I’ve learned to store up sunlight for the same reason.


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