Sunny Guilt

The Sun’s out! Quick, run outside and do something, anything! What? You’re not maximizing your time outside? For shame!. Relax; don’t guilt out about it.

So goes sunshine in the first part of March. We’re still in astronomical winter even as we are in meteorological spring. Ponds are full. Trees are budding but bare (except the evergreens, of course.) It might even be a bit warm outside (but a sudden shadow can be a quick reminder of winter.) Astronomical winter means it should be cold, right? Think of it this way, we’re getting as many hours of daylight now , two weeks before the equinox, as we do two weeks after the other equinox, the beginning of October, the days for that late burst of summer. Solar heating, no equipment required. There’s also probably a storm within three days, either just past or just about to arrive. Chores and exercise routines have been postponed for months. Now, with a brief break from bad weather it’s time to get out there and work or play. So, where’s the guilt? We can feel like we ‘should’ get outside, but sometimes great weather outside coincides with work, school, and life indoors. It feels wrong to close the curtains, which means staying indoors, dutifully doing what needs to be done, while being constantly reminded of songbirds migrating back home, lawnmowers purring and rumbling in the neighborhood, and kids laughing loudly enough to poke past them all.

Homeowners may know the feeling more than most. Those chores may not be discretionary. They may even be necessary. Cloudless skies are a good time to clean the roof and the gutters. Dry days are welcome for mowing lawns that grew regardless of the weather. In a temperate climate like Whidbey’s those lawns had enough rain and little freezing. Now the burst of sunshine means more growth. Miss this opportunity and that growth spurt might turn lawn mowing into weed whacking. Gardens to prepare, especially after the frosts are done. Fences to mend while the winds are calm.

Runners, bicyclists, hikers, sailors, rowers will always include people who won’t stop in any weather, but it’s much easier to get outside to exercise or play or both when it doesn’t require a couple extra layers and loads of laundry.

But life continues. Work and school have structures thanks to schedules and calendars that only have vague notions of summer and that assume regular weekly days off rely on luck for coinciding with good weather. Got to pay those bills and pass those classes.

Just like the exercise types, there’s also entire communities that kept working in all weather. Thanks to the contractors and emergency personnel that kept the world working by working in conditions so few would be willing to do. The rest of us have waited for working in fair weather.

Spring is near. Start slow. Step outside and breathe. Find a few minutes for walks. Wave and say hello to a neighbor that might have only texted for the last few months. (Keeping socially distant, of course.)

The good news is that daylight lasts longer for the next three months, and doesn’t recede to these levels until more than three months after that. Sunshine guilt eases with little spurts of breaks. More time to do the dutiful. More time to be playful. And less guilt. Enjoy the sunshine, because we can.

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