There Goes the Sun

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, And I say it's all right. George Harrison

A week ago, on Monday, August 21st, the eclipse in Portland (Oregon) began round 9:45. It started to get dark.  Then it became darker and darker over the next half hour.  But never totally, not like the middle of the night.  And then it grew lighter and lighter so that by 10:45 it was back to normal sunlight.

The State was mobbed. People from around the world made their way to Oregon. The traffic was terrible. The population in the town of Madras in central Oregon must have increased six-fold.  The TV made it into a media event.  For some it was almost a religious experience.  Then it was over.  But they are still talking about it.

It is not difficult to understand why some cultures worshiped the sun. In a way, I worship the sun, the summer sun, the months of light and warmth. And when sun disappears here during the long and dreary winter, I turn into a lapsed sun worshiper.

In ancient Egypt, the sun god Re was the dominant figure among the gods. Sun worship in one form or another also occurred in medieval cultures and during the later periods of Roman history. I am also aware of solar cults among the Plains Indians in North America and ancient civilizations in Mexico and Peru.

In “Ode to the Sun,” a short section in his Autumn, Karl Knausgaard writes, “Every single day since I was born the sun has been there, but somehow, I’ve never quite got used to it, perhaps because it is so unlike everything else we know.”

He goes on to point out that we cannot get close to it, any effort to do so would be obliterated. And as we were reminded over and over again, we will ruin our eyes if we try to look directly at the sun.

We take the sun for granted, like fresh water, the food on our plates and electricity. It’s important to be reminded of this from time to time. Be grateful for it as a sun worshiper is. Without it would there would be no life.

Knausgaard concludes his Ode this way, “When we eat dinner outside, beneath the apple tree, the air is full of children’s voices, the clatter of cutlery, the rustle of leaves in the mild breeze, and no one notices that the sun is hanging right above the roof of the guest house, no longer blazing yellow but orange, burning silently.”

I was raised in the land of sun, but have spent most of my life in the land of clouds and rain. I miss the sun most of the year. And that is why I traveled to Hawaii, whenever I could.

But those days are over now and I will have to learn how to accept living in the far Northwest of this land. It won’t be easy, as it is mostly sunny on average only 68 days of the year and partly sunny on average another 74 days of the year. Partly sunny days have cloud covering from 40% to 70% of the sky during the daytime. The rest of the days are mainly overcast, with at least 80% cloud cover.

As a friend of mine always says, “It is what it is.” The latest philosophy of life.