Why did I wait so long to face the light? And why the heck am I pondering such things anyway? I can’t seem to help it. Linda’s gone.
Two months and a day after receiving two new tantalum hips, Linda closed the car door and drove away. It’s our ritual. Before the brutal surgery, she’d done this every Tuesday morning since we left our Minneapolis home on 1 August 2011. She works, overnights at Doug and Monica’s, works. And on Wednesday night I wait. For the crunch of tires on gravel. For headlights in the hedgerow. For the screech of the garage door. And finally, through the windshield, her smile, tired and coffee-inspired as it is. I’m so happy to see her. Anxious to touch her. More so, I think, than she is me.
But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the boy’s time. That would be me and Kirby cat. I hauled 3 week’s worth of wood into the garage. Created a spreadsheet of trees and shrubs for our blank-canvas yard. Schemed with nephew Thomas about designing my novel’s cover. Watched Fellowship of the Ring (for the 43rd time). Sipped my lousy blackberry mead. And all the while I did the most Mike thing of all.
Except pondering sounds so heady. I’d like to feel more like this morning’s wind, now running, now walking, now racing as he ponders the shape of the hill, the bend and bounce of the Indian grass, the sharpness of the ice-crusted snow, his own whoosh upon the steel roof, and me, flattening against the yoga porch wall to avoid his slap upon my face.
And so I ponder the light, the light that heroically lifts the fog, pierces the clouds, beams through the south facing bank of windows and finally---gloriously---warms my home and my heart.
And, perhaps because Linda is up there, I pondered 4140, our wonderful old Minneapolis home. Of all the tens of thousands of dollars we devoted to improving our home, why did we never even consider removing a couple upstairs west windows and add a couple facing south? Those darned west windows, hot in the summer, cold in the winter. I’m good at spacial relations. I must have realized that our south overhang, or a simple awning would have shielded us from all summer sun while inviting the low-angled winter beams to slip beneath. At the same time, no overhang---no matter how cleverly designed---could accomplish the same in the west, or east for that matter. Nothing to do but draw the shades, eliminating the only point to a window.
I probably didn’t realize how much heat we could gain. On a sunny day, the slanting beams provide half our heat. Today, like yesterday and the day before, I’ll skip the morning fire and wait until evening. 50% reduction in heating costs on sunny days! For free. We have no more glazing than 4140. All we did is face the glazing toward the light. And oh what that light does for my heart, my winter-weary soul. In the days of darkness---October through March here at 44o N latitude---the sun lives in the south. Rising in the southeast, running across the south, to set so quickly in the southwest. This I knew. This I always knew. Yet we never turned 4140 toward the light. Why?
I’m not sure. But I’m beginning to realize the magnitude of the seduction, the brainwashing, of my grid-tied home, my grid-tied world. Yes, I struggled to perceive off-grid solutions, such as respecting solar orientation. Yet the seduction didn’t end there.
I’m afraid that I was afraid. Afraid to so publicly proclaim my affinity, wild as it was, for the light. It’s a crime, of sorts, a crime against the grid. The grid, after all, is the provider of all things. Heat. Electricity. Food. Education. Health care. How dare I seek elsewhere?