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Into the Light

Hannah Green reflects on the effects of daylight on our habits and our mental state.

By on January 5, 2023 | Comments

The river flows swiftly in between the frozen breaks in the ice while the snow mounds on top of everything, even the trees. It is quite awing to see how strong and powerful snowflakes are all together, despite their delicate nature.

Shadows of trees stretch their lengthy bodies in the sun as my body warms up too. The animal tracks are never more obvious than in the winter. The hare bounding toward a tree, delicate mouse prints like a zipper across the snow. A lynx? A bobcat? In hot pursuit.

Winter, for me at least, comes with an interesting state of mind. I tend to reflect a lot on the past while also trying to figure out the future months, but the short daylight hours make the days zoom by with barely enough time to cook dinner.

Shadows of wild flowers cast on fresh snow.

Shadows of wildflowers cast on fresh snow. All photos: Hannah Green

But on the note of daylight, I tend to find a lot of inspiration in the light. When the sun swirls through a break in the clouds, or the sky becomes a brilliant orange at sunset, or when it is overcast and the flat light blends the snow-covered mountains right into the horizon.

Literally speaking, without light we wouldn’t see everything that we see. Even the light of the moon gives us a glow and produces silhouettes enough to distinguish shapes. This reminds me of one of my mom’s favorite books, “Flatland,” by Edwin Abbott, where instead of people, it’s a hierarchical society based on what shape you are. But without any light, our world would just be dark. Our other senses would take over: smell, touch, taste, hearing. So maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we adjusted to the new limits?

Sometimes limits can be good. One of my friends used to describe work as a fence or limit she needed not just for money but as a boundary to work in and around. The times she didn’t have a job, she felt overwhelmed with a day wide open. The short sunlit hours of winter seem to provide a similar fence. Humans and a lot of animals tend to be diurnal and so we tend to migrate to the sun.

In winter, I’ve noticed town — Silverton, Colorado, where I live — comes alive once the sun hits the valley floor. Everyone escapes work for a lunch run or ski to chase the limited vitamin D. As ultrarunners though, we often find ourselves running through the night during races or even in training, and the novelty of pushing outside that fence is part of the adventure.

Snowy mountains.

Hannah Green’s local mountains in Colorado — ripe for winter adventures.

Obviously, though, fences are always meant to change and be knocked down too. New jobs, injuries, relationships or a lack thereof, training schedules, kids — whatever it is we all try our best to balance life, sometimes teetering in and out of that balance.

I sip my coffee while looking out my bedroom window. The first sunlight hits the peaks. It’s hard to say whether it’s the mountains or the hue of golden sun that gets me dreaming. I’m yearning to head out into the snow and find other views. Yearning to pitch my tent and sip my coffee on the mountain. But the new snow has to settle, and I have to find the break in my work fence. But it’ll come and for now, I am just grateful for the everyday views.

Call for Comments

  • How are you finding the winter season, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere?
  • Are you making the most of it or yearning for longer days and the ease of summer?
Snowy mountains seen out a bedroom window.

The author’s inspiring morning view.

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Hannah Green
Hannah Green wanders long distances by foot and takes photos along the way. When not outside, you can likely find her at the nearby coffee shop. Find more on Instagram and at Hannah Green Art.