When the zucchini crop begins to multiply like cells dividing we give the squashes away, to co-workers, neighbors, we set them out on a table in the church hall, some preserve them, others grate them for breads and muffins. Their abundance is put to use.
On her blog Melissa Shook wondered what she might "do" with the 50 inches of snow that have fallen already in January. Mine is the reverse question: is there something beneficial I can do with sunshine?
Our apartment building, constructed around a courtyard, has two patches of what might be called land in the center. From one grows a jacaranda tree. The other has rose bushes inside an 18-inch-wide frame of lawn. The plantings next to the building are mostly in perennial shade. I will not be raising tomatoes or herbs here.
Obvious sun benefits are Vitamin D, our solar-powered water heaters, warmth, a balm for aching joints, good light for art projects - the colors are more true in natural light. I have made some unappetizing choices when working under incandescents. An Ott light helps, but as a second choice.
It seems that something so plentiful, so rich as an element in song and story, could be whisked like egg whites into a frothy meringue, creamed with sugar and lemon into a piquant curd to spread on toast. Could it be captured to fill quilts and pillows and mattresses, fluffy as polyester batting, lighter than air?
Such a blazing gift could surely be converted to a form that would heal our inner darkness. Compressed into tablets with no side effects, see its glow spreading along tired limbs, brightening glum thoughts, sparking like a jumped battery to restart a discouraged heart. Perhaps what ails us is the inability to ingest pure sunlight. It may be that we need to breath it in, not swallow. Every particle, nourished with oxygen and sun, if only it worked that way.
Dark days come, unannounced and unwelcome. They may or may not have any connection to real-world events. It could just be time for the inner rivers to crest, for the flood of uncertainties to sweep away yesterday's optimism, the goals so nearly achieved. A commodity so limitless and bright must have value in the soothing of our great or small sorrows. Even knowing they are temporary, possibly untrue, does not make them easier to bear in the moment.
In lieu of whatever magic it would take to transform day after day of benevolent sunshine into medicine, I can see why faith in its countless forms is turned to for respite. Whether it is trust in some underlying universal force, a more organized religious belief, the strength and suport of those who love us or intentionally choosing to see the glass as half full, grim imaginings are better faced in company.
But when the occasional shadows fall across what is hard-won and placid and I stare out the window at evidence of dispelling light in endless supply, I wonder how it is possible to stand beneath its radiance and still shiver. This may be why I so often draw the sun. Over here, I think, just enough so I can see the good outcome.