Dr. House

Wise Man

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Summer In Northern Canada

The first time I saw someone standing frozen on a corner Fort McMurray with her face turned up into the sun, I found it odd. She was blissfully staring into the sunlight as if waiting for the mother ship to take her home. It was September and still warm, but winter was creeping up.

Two years later, I am the one standing on the street corner, craning my neck to worship the sun god’s first rays after an unbearably long and dark winter.

It would be a struggle to say northern Canada has four distinct seasons; I would be more apt to describe the region as having two distinct moods: dark and light. The summer/winter dichotomy has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde feeling to it.

In the winter, people are generally quiet and introverted. They keep to themselves and stay inside unless trying to get somewhere or participate in winter sports.

But in the summer, people suddenly wake up as if out of hibernation, and their energy is substantial.

Living up north, you can’t avoid becoming a sun worshipper. You find yourself seeking out patches of sun along sidewalks and in parks, avoiding shadows, and often walking out of your way or crossing the street just to get a few extra rays of sunlight. There is a humorous saying that you know you are from the north if you feel guilty when you are inside when it’s sunny outside.

In northern Alberta the sky really never gets completely dark. It is a sight to behold. In the summer we get about 21 hours of sunlight and the effect is dramatic. In the summer months, light suppresses the body’s melatonin release, which makes it harder to fall asleep. Your brain is tricked into thinking that it should be awake. Reminds me of being a little girl and saying, “But Mom, it’s not bedtime it’s still light out.” A person has an amazing amount of energy when he or she gets so much Vitamin D.