My touchstone for defining lack of sunshine was always the Pacific Northwest, but places like Portland and Seattle get more sun on average than Berlin. I know.

The paintings of the Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi do a lovely job at capturing the winter light in this region; always experienced indoors, it is quiet and diffused. Sometimes, if the sun makes a momentary break through the cloud cover and is just high enough in the sky to clear the buildings opposite your window, a weak sunbeam will settle inside your very dark home. When this happens in the middle of a long winter…it is no exaggeration to say that the heart jumps a little and it is a very exciting 30–60 seconds until it disappears. And then you are left to confront what a sad existence it is when an anemic dose of sun can be such a soul-nourishing event.

There were a couple of times this winter when I very clearly saw myself running out the door and not stopping until I reached the sunshine. Following through with that particular plan would be a little rash, but I hear there is a variation on it that involves a little planning and bringing your things with you.