The other day I was grousing about the excessive sunshine in Anchorage and people got all bent about it. Bitching about the SUN?!? Not possible! Shut up, you! But let me explain something.
I’m a very light eyed northerner. I grew up in a sub-boreal rain forest where the sun shining was a once or twice a year occurrence. No joke, I still remember particular days of sun that occurred when I was a kid. Such a novelty to sit outside and feel warmth pouring down; those days aren’t forgettable. On one of them I lay on a huge fishing buoy my dad had brought home in his helicopter from a remote beach the week before* and rested my cheek on the hot plastic for hours in amazement. It was a completely alien sensation. On another we scrambled to get to the beach before the sun stopped shining. Before we’d walked halfway there, it started snowing on us. It was a wonderland of stolen moments; pack your mittens, kids, we’re going to the beach before it’s too late – some real Bradbury type of stuff.
I wonder, though, if that upbringing contributed to my dislike of long periods of sunshine, which is in turn caused by my eye condition. I have something called photophobia; the ability to see the entire spectrum of light (not AT ALL as cool as it sounds) which leads to chronic irritation of the eyes, pounding headaches, and extreme light sensitivity. I was once rendered helpless curled in a ball on a sun-washed glacier when my UV-protection contact lens failed and curled into the corner of my eye, leaving my iris exposed to the glare. My stalwart partner reached into my eye and pulled it out, to the awe of his then-girlfriend, and then covered my eyes with his own glacier glasses so I could function again to get off the glacier. I still remember the admiration in his girlfriend’s face (she’s squeamish about eyes) and I take credit for the fact that she saw how great of a guy he is and eventually consented to marry him. You’re welcome, dude.
What am I talking about again? Eyes, yes. I am allowed to get my car windows tinted limo dark (it’s legal with a doctor’s prescription) which really does help; if my eyes get irritated it feels as if they are filled with sand for days on end. The cops hate it but I’ve been pulled over at least once by most of APD so most of them know me by now. One time they surrounded my car in the parking lot as I walked into the ski shop. One of them yelled at me for five full minutes until his partner interjected “Dude, I have tinted windows too.”
Sorry for that little side tangent. There are lots of funny little stories related to my photophobia, as it turns out. Anyway, bright light doesn’t exactly hurt, but it causes a strange kind of discomfort and is therefore hard on the psyche. It’s also hard on my eyes; they strain all day to adjust to the glare (though luckily the day is only four hours long right now). And it’s uncomfortable. A straight month of discomfort would annoy anyone, I’ll bet. Looking at the forecast and seeing “sunny, clear” for the discernable future is dismaying to me.
It’s hard to explain, really it is. But here in AK where the sun barely hits 20 degrees above the horizon this time of year, the sun is in one’s eyes ALL. THE. TIME. When a poor Alaskan with no snow to entertain her is tormented by this bright torture device every single day without even the excuse to wear dark ski goggles all day, she gets a little cranky.
The cloudy skies today were a balm to the soul. Not only did they bring the promise of imminent, long-awaited snowfall, but they eased the strain on my eyes. It was like removing a tight band from around each eye socket. I could go outside, drive, recreate, do whatever without squirming around to stand in a shadow or put so many shades down in my truck that I might as well just take a Sharpie to the windows. Ahhhh, clouds. I felt so much better all day.
And when it started snowing after a ridiculously long, cold, cold dry spell? An outstanding bonus.
*Actually true but sounds so ludicrously Ivy League that I’m not even going to explain it, I’m just going to leave it in there for the WTF factor.