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The Sunshine Factor
By Tom Thomson
January/February 2016 Issue
Firt published January 14, 1983 in the Columbus Citizen-Journal

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There is no scientific law on how sunny days affect the way we feel. Yet common sense and experience tell us there is a relationship. Call it the sunshine factor.

This time of year, cloudy days seem to be the rule rather than the exception. Rain, snow and gloomy weather prevail. Sometimes, it takes an extra measure of faith to believe the sun still shines in Florida, much less above the heavy layers of clouds overhead.

How glorious, then, when a bright, clear day dawns. How fine when the stars blaze at night in a cloudless sky.

Spirits soar, smiles proliferate, hearts gladden. No matter that temperatures plunge, the reappearance of the sun is a tonic for the winter blues.

Along city streets, someone breaks into a whistled tune, eyes sparkle, laughter comes easier. And if it’s cold when we jog or take a walk, we are rewarded with hearty appetites and apples in our cheeks.

In contrast with professional meteorologists who are conversant with highs, lows, temperatures and the wind-chill factor, the sunshine factor lies in the domain of poets, philosophers and eternal optimists. It is the elixir that induces a cardinal or song sparrow into tentative melody.

On a ski slope, a wooded trail or a trip to the shopping center, it is calculated by subtle emanations from the heart. It causes the human spirit to take wing.


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