- by Karen Tintori
“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy…”
Whoah! John Denver is singing in my head.
“…Sunshine almost always makes me high.”
A minute ago, I was gazing out the dining room window, taking in the holiday glow of our neighborhood, where multi-hued Chanuka candles are burning brightly at some of the windows, and jewel-toned Christmas tree lights are shimmering from – and around – others.
Smiling out at the frigid Michigan night, I was carrying on my usual mental dialogue, as writers are wont to do, acknowledging gratitude for the warmth of my home on such a frigid night, contemplating what I might write about this month on the Ninc blog, then settling on an exploration of the very things I was looking out at – lights and darkness. With the convergence this week of the Winter Solstice, Chanuka and Christmas, it seemed a pretty good fit.
And then John started singing to me. And I’m not even a fan.
More likely, a chorus of Silent Night or Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel should have begun to dance through my thoughts about winter, its early dark nights, and humankind’s deep need to fill that interminable stretch of gloom with light. I mean, thanks to radio stations and merchants who began spinning the annual holiday playlist before the candles had burned down in our Jack O’Lanterns, holiday melodies swim around in my head day and night, whether I want them there or not. Sometimes, I even catch my inner jukebox sneaking in the refrains of the few holiday classics I dislike.
But John Denver? The man just popped out of the ether and began to sing me a song I haven’t thought about in years.
This afternoon, Sally Field phoned me with her monthly reminder that “tomorrow is Boniva day.” Maybe John Denver came calling tonight to suggest I pop a Vitamin D. God knows I need it, but I prefer my Vitamin D straight from the sky, thank you. Only these days, I’m not getting it.
Gone for now are the first thing in the morning walks with Mr. Eko, our rescue Pit Bull Lab mix. It’s light enough out there, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, but it’s too damned slippery and cold. Gone as well are our nightly after-dinner walks. It’s slippery, cold and too damned dark – plus, the absence of sunshine makes me psychologically tired.
I am a creature who craves light, and I take it as a personal affront that nightfall slams down on us before we’ve even cooked dinner. Darkness messes with my head. The clock says 6 p.m., but the sky says midnight, so even a quick stop at the grocery store, the cleaners, or the library on the way home from my writing partner’s house gets put off until morning. Yet I’d make that same stop in a heartbeat, with energy to spare, May through October.
Now, by the time daylight fades, I’m one to be burrowed in, hunkered down for the night, ready to call it a day at 7 p.m. – all the while fully aware that not three months ago I’d be gearing up for an after-dinner walk as late at 8:30 and still have ample time to get in four miles without need of a flashlight. These days, instead of soaking up my Vitamin D while taking my exercise outdoors, I head down to the treadmill in my fluorescent-lit basement.
John Denver has a point though. Sunshine on my shoulders definitely makes me smile. So does sunshine on my snow. A day without sunshine is a day without energy, a day just plain “without.” A day to search online for the quickest and cheapest source of S.A.D. lights.
When the sun shines in winter, my heart is happy, my spirits soar, and I can tolerate the cold, the wind, and even the mounds of dirty slush the color of a licorice slurpee. When the sun dances on a blanket snow, glittering like a field of diamonds, I’m nearly as delirious as I am at the first sight of spring crocuses poking from the ground. Heck, I even prefer my eggs sunny side up.
Light and darkness are also at the heart of the new hidden-history thriller Jill Gregory and I wrote, as do good and evil, trust and betrayal. THE ILLUMINATION, due out from St. Martin’s Press in hardcover on January 20, 2009, centers on a long-lost biblical treasure from the dawn of creation. It will be simultaneously released in audio formats by Brilliance Audio.
Our protagonist, museum curator Natalie Landau, is desperate to learn who murdered her reporter sister in Iraq and why. Pursued by powerful forces seeking the mysterious gift her sister Dana sent her before she was killed, Natalie is fighting for answers – and for her life. Dana had thought the evil eye necklace she found in Iraq was a trinket, never imagining it concealed a biblical treasure from the dawn of creation: a treasure taken from the palace of Nebuchadnezzar and hidden for centuries, which possesses the power to transform — or destroy — the world.
You can find more information on THE ILLUMINATION, already sold to seven foreign publishers as well, is on my website.
Check back to my site soon for details on a contest Jill and I will be posting. We’ll be giving away several custom-made, one-of-a-kind evil eye bracelets.
May your holidays be sunny and bright, may you shine in all you do in the New Year, and if – like me — you find yourself craving a bit of sunshine, pop a Vitamin D and then go check out a neat piece that landed in my incoming email basket today, about the Winter Solstice, a pope, and a perfect sundial housed inside a church built in 16th century Rome.