Between approximately ten & eleven o'clock in the morning, and again in the late afternoon, I have recently been fasting from my favourite chair. It's a forced fast, brought on by shafts of blinding sunlight that simply weren't there when said seat was so positioned last April. The direct morning light that had me closing my east-facing windows all summer has vanished, but my south-facing dining room basks in something similar come noon. Sunbeams illuminate the tile back-splash next to my north-facing stove while I prepare supper, and washing dishes in front of the kitchen's west window is no longer a problem in the evening (drat).
It's hardly a new phenomenon, this tightening arc of the sun. I'm sure it has happened before every winter solstice these past six years, and for eons prior to any human observation. Given the slight difference in latitude between Edmonton and my native Saskatoon, I've very likely been exposed to something similar my entire life. What's somewhat unique (if such a concept exists) is the combination of factors it took to make me take notice; my first year in a house whose windows mirror the points of the compass, an unusual number of sunny days throughout late October and early November, and, of course, the novelty of my now-regular early morning walks have opened my eyes. Despite my storybook assumptions, the sun is not journeying from due east to due west at this time of year in this part of the world; southeast to southwest would be more accurate. High noon is no longer particularly "high". And it took getting pushed out of my comfort zone for me to be present to it.
Don't get me started on what's technically happening - my one attempt at explaining how the relationship between the tilt of the earth and its elliptical orbit around the sun results in seasons left me downright confuzzled. It probably doesn't help that the closest I've come to the earth sciences since elementary school was first-year Biology. I do much better with the fairy tales. My daughter seemed to take it all in stride, however, which makes me wonder how much of the "knowledge" I spout off just flies over her head unnoticed. But her teachers can worry about that in a couple years.
For now, I think I'll just focus on lengthening shadows, reminisce about those amber mornings that snowfall has turned icy blue, and look forward to witnessing the daylight wax to summer even as it continues to wane.