Several years ago, one of my doctors recommended twenty minutes of sunlight per day as part of a treatment plan for depression. (Sunscreen first, of course.) Since then, it seems that more and more medical professionals want to talk about the health benefits of natural light. And I’m eager to listen.
I don’t know if anyone has studied or quantified the healing properties of sunlight, but personal experience convinces me to keep dragging myself outside. Even when the weather is bad. Especially when the weather is bad. It’s easy to feel content standing in a sun-soaked yard. Less easy when the yard is rain soaked, or iced over, or clotted with smog.
In winter, when I sometimes miss my twenty minutes, I lapse into dark moods and sleepy hazes. During the summer, when I average quite a bit more than twenty minutes, I suffer far fewer episodes of depression and/or anxiety.
At first, I tried reading during my sunlight minutes, which led to a few unfortunate sunburns due to forgetting the time (or going to sleep, depending on the book). Then I tried walking, which quickly deteriorated into fitful laps around the yard. I talked on the phone, weeded flower beds, trimmed roses, and doodled in notebooks as poem fragments refused to become poems. I played with the dog and painted the deck. Nothing took. Nothing worked well enough to become a routine, not until my new camera arrived.
Weeks rolled into months as I experimented with the zoom and macro functions. My twenty minutes of sunlight became twenty minutes of photography, which became this blog. Despite appearances, this isn’t a photography blog or writing blog or poetry blog. It’s a depression and anxiety blog. A sunlight and yard blog, measured in twenty minute increments.
Yesterday’s twenty minutes found a honey bee, a moth, and a spider web (look away, if you’re arachnophobic…)
After the spiderweb, my twenty minutes stretched into an hour, due to this butterfly. (I believe it is an Eastern Tailed Blue.) It flitted through the sparse patches of clover in our back yard, ignoring my eccentric hands-and-knees pursuit. Today I have a mild sunburn and the remnants of a grass-allergy rash, but I also have these photos…