Even the light here is different

There are many things I knew would change when we moved to America.

Our language would be odd [use the phrase “he threw his toys out’ the pram” and just watch their befuddled faces], our routines unconventional.

I fully expected a warehouse-sized grocery store and a wild goose chase or two when I craved the craggy comforts of some of the oldest rocks on the planet.

But I forgot about the latitude.

For those of you who don’t remember third grade Social Studies, latitude is how we measure how far north or south you are on the globe.

The equator sits at 0 degrees, the North and South Poles at 90. The 45th parallel is exactly halfway between, with the balmy middle temperatures which define some of the world’s most renowned wine country. latitude

Edinburgh was on the 56th parallel. Right now I sit on the 43rd.

That’s 13 degrees difference. Which means precious little on a map, but given the jaunty tilt at which our planet spins around the solar ystem, it makes a world of difference in the weather.

Example: today, 15 January 2013.

Lansing will see 9 hours, 24 minutes and 3 seconds of daylight.

Edinburgh will see 7 hours, 37 minutes and 13 seconds of daylight.

Now we all know I have a thing about light. It’s how I mark my years (and how I acknowledge some holidays).

But here, every day it surprises me. The depths of winter don’t seem nearly as deep if the sky is a bright burnished orange when I drive home from work on a January evening.

Not to mention the fact the sun is out more days than not. I’ve never need sunglasses so badly.

The brilliance of light bouncing on fresh snow is indescribably beautiful (and mildly painful on the eyeballs).

It feels brighter now than most summer days ever did at home because the whole world is a giant white mirror bouncing light every which way. It makes me giddy just to think of it.

Winter may be one thing we share staying in the same hemisphere, but it is an entirely different beast this side of the pond.


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