Everyone loves a sunny day. Well, most people, most of the time love a sunny day. A farmer in the middle of a drought might prefer a substantial downpour. Sometimes, too, it can be too hot and that can be unpleasant. And you have to be careful of the sun, because too much exposure leads to sunburn and can lead to skin cancers.
Most of the time, though, people enjoy a sunny day. Here in the southern hemisphere Christmas falls in the middle of summer, so there is some hope of a sunny and warm Christmas Day. Some people roll out the barbecue and cook the Christmas lunch on that. Some have even decided that the “Christmas Barbie” is “traditional” and hold one even if the weather is not particularly good.
Sun on our skins causes our bodies to produce Vitamin D. The New Zealand Ministry of Health says :
For most people, it’s easy to get enough vitamin D in New Zealand – our bodies produce it whenever we get the sun on our skin.
But they also warn :
However, because of the risks of sunburn and skin cancer, we need to be careful how much sun we get.
So, it’s a balancing act. Local newspapers give estimates of “burn time” and kids are much more covered up in the sun than we ever were when we were kids. It doesn’t seem to slow them down, though!
Incidentally, why doesn’t someone develop a sunscreen lotion that doesn’t feel so disgusting and sticky? Or is it just me?
When summer is over and shorter days and more inclement weather is here, most people stay inside more and there is a danger, for some people, of “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD (I wonder how long it took to come up with that name and acronym!). People with this disorder suffer depression and other symptoms which can be relieved by subjecting them to periods of intense artificial light. Of course this may just be an effect and not a full-blown disorder. SAD does not appear to be related to a deficiency of Vitamin D, as the quoted Wikipedia article states that Vitamin D treatment doesn’t remove the symptoms of SAD.
It appears then, that a sunny day does more than give you a dose of Vitamin D – it also gives your spirits a lift. Even if I am working and have to stay indoors, I find life much more pleasant if the sun is shining outside.
Of course we get sunny days in other seasons than summer, don’t we? In winter it is often bitingly cold, but people bundle up and head outside to enjoy the sunshine nevertheless. In the autumn a sunny day can be quite warm, leading to the term “Indian Summer”. In the spring a sunny day is often warmer than preceding days, especially in comparison to the cold, dark days of winter, and presages the spurt of growth that is the forerunner of summer. It may be a sunny day will be heralded by the songs of birds mating and nesting, and shoots of new grass growth and buds on trees may be evident, especially in deciduous plants which are native to colder climates.
Whatever the season sunny days are generally welcomed as a chance to get outside and “do things”. This may be as simple as gardening or as rigorous as some sport or other. Even something like taking the dog for a walk is always better on a sunny day. Bad weather may preclude some sports, such as mountain climbing, but with a clear morning and a good weather forecast and you can feel confident of tackling that peak, and standing on the top you can admire the view.
Mothers and pre-school teachers look forward to sunny days. If rain keeps the kids inside, they get bored easily and that can lead to upset and even tantrums. On sunny days they can be urged outside to play on the trampoline or chase the chickens or whatever and they are not underfoot and don’t have to be kept busy.
In the biblical story of Noah and the Ark, Noah and his family, together with all the animals endured 40 days and nights of rain, before, eventually, seeing the sun and the rainbow. Imagine for a moment that the story was true. How glad would they have been to finally see the sun, and what sort of state would they have been in? They would probably have been bickering, playing cards with a pack of 51, arguing over the rules for checkers, blaming each other for not bringing along more beer, and arguing over whose turn it was to muck out the animals. The animals would not have been in a much better state either. The ducks arguing with the geese, the hyenas laughing at the dogs and the cats, not insisting, but expecting that everything would be done their way and for their benefit and comfort.
As I look outside now, it is pouring down! But on Friday it was beautiful and we took the grand-kids to visit Wellington’s Botanical Gardens. We parked in the CBD (which was expensive) and took the Cable Car up to the Gardens. The sun shone and the cicadas were making a din in the trees. We visited the Cable Car Museum, walked to Carter Observatory and walked down into the actual gardens by way of the kids’ playground. Finally we went through the floral displays and on to the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens. You can’t beat Wellington on a good day, and this was one of them.