The first sign of approaching spring peeked through my living room window this morning, even though there are still seventeen inches of snow in my front yard. It wasn’t a robin, and I haven’t heard the peepers yet because they both have sense enough to wait until the weather is actually warm enough to promise spring. But the sun doesn’t wait for the weather to change. It courses across the sky, slowly slipping south for the winter and then rising from that low horizon as the seasons change. Today, for the first time since fall, the sun painted a faint yellow stripe on my living room wall. The northern hemisphere of the earth is once again tipping towards the sun.
My house was built in about 1895. We’re pretty certain of that date because we found a penciled inscription on one of the two by fours in the ceiling when we remodeled. This house was built in a time when central heating and good insulation didn’t exist. I think my pioneer builders planned for the sun’s position in the sky during each season. When we remodeled, we didn’t move any windows or doors. During our first year of living here, we noticed that, in the winter, the back side of the house gets full sun almost all day long. That side has lots of windows, so even in the coldest weather I am cheered by the yellow light streaming in. In the summer, none of the windows receives full light except in the early morning and late afternoons. And in fall and spring the light is neutral. This beautiful arrangement means that the house is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
But, that’s not the only indication that the builders were in tune with nature. Our house is tucked into a small hollow which shelters it from the worst of the winds, but we are just high enough that we have a spectacular view. There’s also a spring less than thirty yards from the back door and a patch of rich soil for a garden within watering distance.
This morning, I was grateful for pioneer ingenuity. That first stripe of sun painting a gold line on my living room wall was such a blessing. Spring can’t be far behind.