Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Make it Summer

When I was a youngster growing up in chilly dark Massachusetts, I hated winter and the endless long dark nights and the relentless cold. I begged my mother to "make it summer!" (Not, as the Captain would say, "make it so." They have Holodecks to deal with this problem.) I was not a winter sports fan, to say the least. I nagged Mother so much that she finally got an idea how to make it summer: she bought me a sun lamp. This device could either emit ultraviolet rays and a bright bluish light, or with another attachment, heat and infrared rays from a radiator element. It came with a set of dark goggles to wear when using the sun lamp.

This would be totally illegal nowadays, but it was just the thing back in the early 1960s. (It is not illegal in China, as an internet search shows.) With my goggles on I put my face in front of the sun lamp for carefully measured intervals of 15 minutes or so. A suitable exposure time tinted my face pink and also got rid of adolescent acne. We didn't know anything about "seasonal depression" back then but I could sure use that sunlamp now. The non-operating ruins of my little sun lamp, all rusted and dusty, still exist in the clutter of my mother's house. 

There are plenty of anti-seasonal depression lights on the market, and I have one from about 1999, but it's never done the job. You'd think that Virginia, which is the South, would not be a problem for me with winter cold and darkness, but it is. I cherish that one month when things are lush and warm and wet in the world, that is, July. The most I can do is unearth a summer sketch from my 1980s sketchbook. This one is of Cambridge trees and a turret from a magnificent old house on my street.

Brown ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, restored in Photoshop, 8" x 10", July 15, 1984.

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