December Reflections 2: light


After a week of beautiful, watered-gold sunlight, today has been grey. I went looking for light at the Fitzwilliam Museum instead. I found it in the ‘Colour’ exhibition – the brilliance of illuminated manuscripts – and in the French impressionists gallery (I’ve lived in Cambridge for well over two years now, and I’m still not accustomed to the idea that I can ride my bike into town and go and look at a Seurat or a Cézanne, just like that) and in the foyer.

I’ve been paying more attention to sunlight this year. At work, I moved from the fourth floor – above the canopy of the plane trees – to the second. After a month in the middle of the room I moved again, to sit next the window, to a desk that faced the other way. I bought a daylight simulation lamp for use at work, to complement the one that I have at home.

My body humours me, but it isn’t fooled. Switching the light on will improve my mood almost instantly, but I’m still exhausted at the end of the day. This week of annual leave has been a relief, allowing me to sleep until well after sunrise, to submit to the rhythm that I can never quite conquer. It’s a joy to be wakened by the light.

Light is in short supply this month, and yet – the light that I have been granted has been particularly lovely. Low, slanting sunlight; crisp starlight; the light stolen by artists and captured in gold leaf and crushed lapis lazuli. All mine, for the looking.

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