Sunday, January 19, 2014

Shadows and Tall Trees

The winter months always strike me as a rather interesting extreme in angles. Whereas the summer sun shines brightly overhead around noon, in the winter, sunlight reaches the wall through my bathroom window at noon, at a rather significant angle. When I see the light bouncing off the white wall in my hall, I get an almost wistful sense about. I have a sense of awe when see that subtle change in my environment, a result of the slow, intricate dance of the earth around the sun.

Now that I'm living in Utah, I'm six degrees north latitude of where I used to live, Los Angeles. Everything seems a bit more extreme when it comes to the sun's position in the sky. In the summer, the sun seems to set in the extreme north relative to my position and it is high overhead at noon. In the winter, the sun seems to set in the extreme south relative to my perspective. It was confusing at first, but now I'm used to it.

For some reason, the angles of the shadows in winter afternoons and sunsets seem odd to me. They just seem so out of balance, so extreme. Late afternoon seems so much like sunset because the sun's position in the sky is already low compared to summer. The days are shorter and the shadows are longer. This time of year reminds me of a great song by U2, "Shadows and Tall Trees".

When I see the shadows as I drive home from work, I start to think about time. I think about the passing of the year, the cycle of the year and sometimes, I wonder what this planet would look like to aliens. The shadows of the winter solstice past remind me of the limits of my will and give me pause to reflect again. I am reminded not to ask too much of myself. I am reminded to listen and take direction. I am reminded that this is another year and that I will get a shot at redeeming myself for mistakes past.

After the passing of the solstice, the hopes and aspirations of the coming spring return as the shadows each day show progress to what my brain thinks is normal. The days are lighter, the angles on the ground are not so extreme anymore. I begin to recall the days when I could just sit and sweat in the heat with some anticipation.

These are, I guess, the musings of a closet astronomer.
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