Thursday, April 23, 2015

A small thing to love: sunlight

This past academic year, I've been buried under paperwork.  Perhaps I have mentioned my burial a time or two; sorry to be such a whiner.   My paperwork prowess comes with its own kind of nebbish pride, but it isn't the kind of thing to inspire lofty conversation or deep emotional connection, y' know.  

So a week or so ago, I was especially grateful for a morning walk with N-son, a chance to be (a) outdoors and (b) with an actual person.  N-son and I walked eastward, into the rising sun, and we fell into our old habit of playing "I like".  The game is simple: we take turns saying things that we like to do.  It is a game that sounds incredibly hokey, and yet N-son and I, we always fall to playing it when we walk together.  And when we walk across the campus into the rising sun, we both know that my opening line will likely be,
"I like having the sun on my face."

This time of year, there are many reasons to be grateful for the sun, many of them frugal.

For example, by taking my tomatoes outdoors to play in the sun in their Magic School Bus cardboard box lid, I get big healthy tomato seedlings without paying for grow lights or electricity.  Frugal score one for the sun!

Another example: by capturing daylight in these special solar jars, . .
 . . . I get free night lights!  Frugal score two for the sun!

Or what about this?  By putting my own body in the sun during the day -- say while I go jogging along merrily with my friends -- I manufacture my very own life-giving, health-building Vitamin D.  The Vitamin D Council (did you even know there was such a thing?) says
The two main ways to get vitamin D are by exposing your bare skin to sunlight and by taking vitamin D supplements. You can’t get the right amount of vitamin D your body needs from food. 
The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays). This can happen very quickly, particularly in the summer.
So sunlight saves at least $9 (compared to taking costly vitamins) per year. Whoop!  Frugal score three for the sun.

But there's more of course. Moving into a sunny reading spot (either indoors or outdoors) saves money on lightbulbs.  A well-timed dose of very bright sunlight helps travelers overcome jet lag. A solar clothes dryer (e.g., an outdoor clothes line) brightens those whites, saves on dryer costs, and preserves clothes longer.  Frugal score four, five, six, seven, and eight for the sun!

And this time of year, everywhere I go, people are glorying in the weather.  No matter what our resolutions, winter is a hard time to exercise outdoors.  It's not so much that it's more difficult to be outdoors in cold weather, but rather that it's difficult to be outdoors more.  But spring has sprung us from our cages, so now when I walk outside, I see students from classes past (hugs, hugs).  I see professors who just got tenure (high fives!).  I see colleagues from other offices (gossip, gossip).  Sunlight is a social capital enhancer.  It brings people into contact by bringing us out of our buildings.  Score nine-through-goodness-knows-how-much for the sun!

I know we've just come off of Earth Day. I love that day.  But I also love having the sun on my face.  I'm ready to celebrate Sun Day now.  

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