Today was one of those overcast days when the sun didn’t break through and all we got was indirect lighting. When this happens I can’t help but feel cheated.

The sun has been back for a couple of weeks now, and while it isn’t quite hitting the streets (except for a bit on Front Street) it does turn the hills across the river golden by noon, and lights up the Moosehide Slide a little bit more each day.

So when there’s cloud cover and all we get is diffuse reflected light so beloved by interior designers, it’s a little disappointing.

The sun reflects off the Moosehide Slide PHOTO: Dan Davidson

I’d seen the sun gilding the tops of the trees from my living room window a week or so before it decided to get really dramatic, but then we had a few days of very cold weather, complete with ice fog, and it didn’t show.

The next time I really noticed it was on January 23, while driving down Queen Street to the post office. The street ahead to me was shadowy, with a few patches of pallid brightness reflecting off buildings, but the hill just past Front Street was brilliant by contrast.

It made the day seem warmer, though it really wasn’t.

It’s been hovering between -35 and -45 in town here until just recently, and it’s been colder down the valley.

It crept above -30 and into the mid-20s a couple of times, just long enough for our latest Berton House writer-in-residence, Dan Dowhal, to make the observation that the minus 20s really are warmer than the minus 30s and 40s.

He’s been trying to explain it to some folks back in Toronto, where they moan about -8, but he says they just don’t get it.

(Dan, by the way, will be giving a reading at the Dawson Community Library on February 16, a couple of weeks before his term at the house comes to an end.)

At lower temperatures that fluffy snow I mentioned a few weeks ago settles and hardens, and you have to chip at it to get it to move off your steps and walkways. Someone who was in desperate need of doing this stole both our aluminum shovel and our ice chopper from inside our fence near the beginning of the cold snap.

The newer plastic shovels, though light and easy to handle, are of little use in the really cold weather. They don’t bite into the snow well, and have a tendency to crack under the kind of impact you need to use to get the job done. Once the snow has compacted you need a metal blade to move it.

With the sun up by 10 a.m. and not setting until nearly 5 p.m. today, you can imagine it’s a good deal cheerier here than it was during the deepest, dark weeks. Still, it’s never as totally dark as some people think. Just last weekend I heard a friend say she’s wearing sunglasses in the afternoon, even on those overcast days.

It’s true the reflection off the snow, from both the ground and the nearby roofs, can be quite bright, even when you can’t see the sun.