Art-Science, Solstice, and Journaling

My first serious after-college job as as a biology teacher. I was a geeky kid, and I still love science. A little science makes for a lot of understanding. It makes me sad when I hear people trashing science knowledge as being impractical. It was knowledge of science that made me aware last January, that the downpour we were having would

1. cause the pool to overflow if it continued for half an hour.

2. I could not bail water out of the pool fast enough to prevent it from overflowing.

3 The backflush hose we had needed to be a larger diameter if I were going to use the backflush to get water out of the pool.

Sun position (top) from June to September, 2010

Perfectly understandable then, that science becomes a part of my raw art journal. Seed pods,  fruit ripening, hummingbird nests all become sketches in the journal. Along with the dates. One of my journals shows what happens in the nature area of my city-set house each month, creating a seasonal calendar.

It’s September, and we are nearing the solstice. Common knowledge says the sun rises in the East. Mostly true, but the sun swings North and South, hitting exactly East only on Spring and Fall solstice. Why do you care? You might not. I do, because my bedroom windows face East, and there is a time of year I need to pull the blinds if I don’t want the sun in my eyes at dawn, and a time of year I don’t touch the blind because the sun doesn’t come near the window. And even if it’s not a practical application, I love knowing that the sunrise is in a slightly different place every day. And it explains the I-95 freeway exit in Northern Maryland called “Northeast Rising Sun” They must have settled that town in summer.

The further north you live, the bigger the swing. People on the Equator don’t get any swing at all–which is how come the weather doesn’t change a lot at the Equator.

And that explains the page spread in my journal. I stand at the same spot on my patio, and mark where the sun is several times a season. It’s moving South faster now, and will continue till the end of December. But for right now, I know that when the sun rises behind a certain palm tree, we won’t have any more 110 degree days.

-Quinn McDonald is curious about the natural world and believes there are a lot of answers if we want to learn them.