By Sue Murphy
The eclipse was amazing, wasn’t it? I sat out in my driveway wearing my ISO-approved glasses and made a day of it. Actually, I sat off in the shade and emerged every few minutes to peer upward because, even at the eclipse-peak, it was just too darn hot.
The sun is a double-edged marvel. Plants need sunlight to grow. Our bodies need sunlight to zip up our Vitamin D. The sun provides us with warmth and light, but to stand directly under its rays for very long, your whole body needs SPF100.
It’s the same thing for a house. People on “House Hunters” walk into a vaulted-ceiling entry and gasp, “There’s so much natural light!” I take one look at the sunbeams streaming through those floor-to-ceiling windows and start channeling my Aunt Rita: “They’ll spend a fortune on drapes.”
Aunt Rita had a point. Those beautiful sunbeams have the power to fade furniture and rugs and everything else in their path. Ever since my Great Kitchen Debacle of 2017, I’ve been pretty protective of
my new baby hardwoods. My south-facing drapes get closed mid-morning; my westward drapes, shortly after lunch. With everything closed, however, the place looks like Mammoth Cave (cue the wheezing), so as soon as the sun dips safely over the horizon, I open everything back up again. I love sunshine, but sometimes, it’s just too much.
I was feeling pretty annoyed with my daily drape chase until a few days after the sun’s total eclipse, when Hurricane Harvey made its totally devastating landfall. I watched the news updates in horror as the suffering mounted and it became clear that the victims there were hoping for whatever scrap of sunlight they could get. It rained and it rained and there was no place for all that rain to go.
We all know that, just as our world needs sunlight, it needs rain. Without rain, the crops will fail, the reservoirs will empty, and people will not survive. Too much rain, and people’s lives can get swept away in the runoff.
And then came Hurricane Irma – too much wind, too much rain, too little gasoline, too little shelter.
These disasters serve as a reminder that we are, every one of us, vulnerable creatures who need food and water and protection from those elements that are beyond our control. And, try as we might, we can’t always meet those needs on our own. It would be wonderful if there was a way to balance it all out, collect excess sunlight and transfer it to areas that are dark, back up a fleet of tanker trucks to flooded areas and carry that water to areas suffering from drought, to keep the entire world at a happy sun/rain/wind level, but it’s not within our power. Whatever balance we find will come from the post-disaster help we lend to each other. We cannot control the weather or the tides or the movements of the sun, but we can control the way we deal with the aftermath. As the hurricane victims emerge to start rebuilding their lives, they will need food and shelter and comfort. They will need wood and nails and bricks and mortar. They’re going to need the help of every person who can hold a hammer, and my hope is that we all show up.
Life is both cyclical and unpredictable at the same time. The best we can do is keep looking up and spread a little sunshine where we can. Just enough, mind you. Otherwise, you have to close the drapes. ❖