Sun Gets In Your Eyes.

The sun, constellation Capricorn, and Mercury. Picture made with SkyView app for iPhone.

As the sun moves across the sky a terrible thing happens to drivers going down, or rather up, since they’re climbing a hill, a particular stretch of road. The sun’s position is such that it’s right there at the peak of the hill and it hits us right in the face, blinding us. It’s a temporary phenomenon. Even┬áduring the times of year when it’s in just the right position, or rather just the wrong position, it’s there less than an hour because, when you think about it, the sun moves pretty quickly, even relatively speaking, or rather the Earth moves pretty quickly, turning so the horizon rises up to meet the sun, but during that time it creates a dangerous condition. The builders of ancient monuments like the pyramids or Stonehenge thought about the positions of the sun and stars. The Mayan temple of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza has a famous “serpent” effect during the spring equinox, all developed because the position of the sun was important to people and they also had a lot of time on their hands because they weren’t driving anywhere. Whoever decided where the road should go didn’t seem to think about this, and they probably didn’t have much choice because roads go everywhere so it’s unavoidable that some of them are going to face straight into the sun.

Since my stop was coming up I had moved to a seat near the driver.

“That sun is brutal,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said, “and I’ve got a sun shade here, but it’s but it’s broken so I can’t pull it down.”

I’d noticed that. Bus drivers don’t have a sun shade like most cars but a fabric screen they can pull down part of the way to block the sun. When the sun is low enough, though, when it’s right in the middle of your field of vision, no shade helps.

“At least it’ll be behind me when I turn around and head back,” she said.

And I remembered something I learned as a kid, an Irish blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face…

Obviously the Irish didn’t drive a lot.

What’s the best way to deal with sun right in your face? I can think of a couple of ideas: pull off the road, turn another way and go somewhere else for a bit until the sun is in a different part of the sky, and, if you’re riding a bus, don’t talk to the driver while they’re trying to concentrate on the road.

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  1. Ann Koplow

    Love your posts, Chris, rain or shine.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Your comments always bring a ray of sun here–and thankfully one that’s illuminating, never blinding.

  2. Mila

    I hate driving. Too many unpredictable variables.

    This thought was supposed to be wholesome, and tie into your post, but then I got distracted, and now I can’t remember.


    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Well I’m glad it wasn’t wholesome. Wait, if it wasn’t wholesome does that make it halfsome? Quartersome? Anyway you’re right, there are too many unpredictable variables when driving, although I find walking can be at least as challenging. Even when I’m on my feet I have to pay attention to where I’m going and try to avoid other people. Richard Pryor had a good point when he said that if you set yourself on fire and run down the street people will get out of your way, but that approach has its own disadvantages.


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