Winter Solstice (and the need for natural light, part I)

Today is the winter solstice, and this weekend we got blasted with two snowstorms in a row. Winter has definitely arrived! I love the snow, and am delighted (especially since I don’t have to drive anywhere) with the winter-wonderland effect. White Christmas and all that. Almost everything looks better to me with a good dollop of the stuff. 

The only problem with snowstorms is that it tends to be cloudy when we have them. A cloudy winter solstice – already the shortest day of the year – even with the snow falling, can get rather gloomy. So I was happy just now when the storm ended and the sun broke through. I ran outside with my camera into the glittering, glowing whiteness of it all. Just what the doctor ordered: A little exercise, a little vitamin D, a little time appreciating nature close-up, cold fingers and all. 

Remember that post about seedheads? Now I can finally illustrate how beautiful they look (goldenrod, above). 

But I also got to thinking about the importance of light. Plants need light to photosynthesize; humans need light, too, and more research than ever is showing that natural light exceeds artificial when it comes to making us feel good. This means that buildings should be designed for their inhabitants to have as much natural light as possible. On this lovely winter solstice afternoon (and erev Channukah), it’s 4:00, the sun is setting, and it’s almost time to go inside and light the menorah. So stay tuned for tomorrow, when I’ll delve deeper into the research on natural light and the implications for therapeutic landscapes.