A friend of mine lives in an old farm house with a single hallway that goes from the front to the back, and once a year the rising sun is perfectly framed by the back door so that it shines all the way through the house. He calls it “House Henge” and, being a farmhouse, you’d think the builders might have planned for this and placed the house so it would fall on one of the equinoxes or one of the solstices—a time with some significance, perhaps, especially with regard to planting or harvesting. But, no, it just happens sometime in August. It’s still a pretty cool thing, though, and always reminds me how strange it was when I was a kid and realized the sun doesn’t just rise and set. It moves from north to south. I’d always heard “the sun rises in the east and sets in the west” but that’s not really true. Watching sunsets from my more or less west-facing bedroom window I’d see the sun set over some distant hills in the summer and behind a stand of trees in the winter, and when I saw a picture of an analemma I wasn’t surprised that people had documented the motion of the sun.
This motion can sometimes be annoying too. When I rode the bus home from work regularly I traveled more or less west, and there was always a time of year when, in the afternoon, the setting sun would be directly in front of the bus, pretty much blinding the driver. I’m sure it still happens; I see buses along my old route all the time. Bus drivers have a little bit of a shade they can pull down but there’d be at least a day or two when the sun is low enough that pretty much all they can do is put on some sunglasses and keep their eyes low.
A few months ago it looked like I’d be going back to work in my office, and I was even making plans to resume riding the bus, probably going both ways since my wife and I let our parking passes for work expire. Then all that fell through and for now I plan to keep working from home. And we’re getting to a time of year when the afternoon sun shines right in through the window where I work. It would be annoying but, hey, I can pull the shade all the way down. It’s not like I’m going anywhere.