shedding light on everyday things

We all have a personal relationship with light and what it does to our brain chemistry, how we are lifted by and seek out our favorite bits and pieces, how deeply we miss it if absent.

For a time in my youth I was hospital and recovery homebound without access to outdoors. In Vancouver’s wet grey concrete General Hospital of days gone by I had a bed one removed from the windows in the room. On a striker frame I couldn’t move more than a fraction of an inch in any direction for about six weeks. The room itself seemed designed to repel light. When it rained the window about half way up a wall of four towered sections each looking into a courtyard reflecting grey weeping concrete felt a lot like rapunzel’s castle. There was however, an angled bit at the top right edge of the window where I could almost see the sky and on blue days that was heaven. Natural light is a gift.

I have a range of favoured lighting, dim warm diffused  such as that of candles in semi darkness or the way light falls like a liquid gold through the trees and highlights bits of plant life, dances with the contrasting shadows. Winter light is an essay all its own, much like winter white, or the many words for ice and snow in inuit language and northern cultures.

Throughout the year I challenge the patience of those who share my life with frequent requests, you MUST come to the window, and see the sunset /sun rise/ storm shadows and so it continues.

For painters and photographers, it may just be a bit closer to awareness at all moments, the fleeting shifts for plein air painters, the magic hour for photographers and filmmakers just as dusk becomes end of day. In the warm summer mornings and evenings you will find me often in my rocking chair in front of the hedge and light plays its magic tricks and the ordinary, inside of the moment become the extraordinary and there it is, that lift.

If I were to spend all of the rest of my time, inside the small bit of the world I inhabit, I believe I would not run short of things to paint, to photograph and to write about. Life is as big or as narrow as you allow it to be.

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4 thoughts on “shedding light on everyday things

  1. I spent near three months in hospital as an eight year old…in isolation…on the burn ward…in the old Hamilton General Hospital…I wasn’t pinned to a Stryker frame…but I understand that need to “see” the world…the window was in the room and my single bed with everyone needing to be gowned and masked to enter my room. And as a child…the worst was they had to take the little decorated name card off my dinner trays! ..funny the stuff we remember…In order to see out the window I had to “bounce” up and down on the bed …like a trampoline…then I’d catch hell from the nurses ha… But I needed to see OUT….
    I remember the day in October when I was discharged and mom drove me home …even as a child it was SHOCKING…sensory overload with fall colors and I remember those rust color brick buildings gleaming. Even our home seemed to be so bright and overwhelming. But…I rush outside at the first sign of a pink sky. pull the car to the side of the road to admire a vista, gaze admiringly at my world around me … I’d forgotten why…

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    1. Thank you Carla for sharing your story. I hope hospitals have continued to develop their understanding of the importance of space in wellness and recovery, for everyone but perhaps especially for children and our elders. I think there are strange and hidden gifts in all things, we may not choose the particular learning experience, but still find the silver linings.

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