Finding the sun pouring in through our London kitchen window K puts a chair in place and settles with a book. She expects the sun to rise to the left where there is plenty of sky. It doesn't. It goes off to the right and disappears behind trees. When you come from the Southern Hemisphere you're used to the idea that the seasons are reversed - summer in August, winter at Christmas. You're prepared for it before you ever cross the Equator. All the literature tells you of it - the seasons as they occur in books rather than in 'reality'; and our Christmas cards in New Zealand still sometimes show fir trees and snow. But in all the years of coming half-way around the world (I've now crossed the Equator 17 times) I don't remember noticing this peculiar habit of the Northern sun. Because I'm not of a scientific bent it takes some hasty diagrams to convince myself that we haven't made a mistake. But of course it's true. If you imagine a stick figure in the Northern Hemisphere looking down the globe towards the sun's path around the Equator, the sun moving east to west rises at the figure's left and sets at his right hand. A corresponding figure in the Southern Hemisphere, looking north to the Equator, will see the sun rise from the right and pass over to the left - hence K's (and my) expectation in our London kitchen.
LRB 18 October 1984 | PDF Download