Friday, January 20, 2012


These days have been all about light and the lack thereof. Mornings I open the curtains to what should, IMHO, be well before dawn and in fact it's getting on 8am. Where last week I laid in my bed and watched brilliant winter sunrises above Lake Washington and Mt. Rainier, this week has been all drab dim January haze, snow underfoot and no intimation of sun.

It's more dark when living a solitary life, when there's no hubbub of another human to fill in the gaps between the sparks, or another human to provide the sparks. Cats are a meager substitute, try as they might, and try as I might to believe that they are enough. Their limited vocabularies of squeaks and rumbles, though entertainment in themselves, just don't quite expand the edges of human imagination.


I recall a winter, eight years ago, newly widowed, where I didn't want the darkness to end. Each night was a descent into swaddled-down, drugged comfort, and silence. When the light began to re-emerge as spring strode forth, I mourned the solace of my 8pm bedtimes and the many hours devoted to the perfection of dreamless sleep. This year, though, rings decidedly different. I've developed a sensitivity to light of all kinds, have become terrifically opinionated about sources of light and intensities of light. Last night I again walked the circuit around the block, late, in the illumination of street lights on snow, and the contrast seemed perfect, and warming. Odd, I know, when this small corner of the world was frozen into place, when all meteorological predictions of a thaw continually held false promise. Yet the balance of light and dark, the highlights and the shadows teetered not on the edge of a descent into the depths but offered a glimpse of some other light, some other universe where darkness opened a door into something yet undiscovered and overflowing with possibilities.

Tomorrow the snow will be gone, and night will resume its seasonal gloom. I'll light candles, shift the curtains, adjust the lamps and plug in my red-pepper lights. There will be no late-night glasses of wine under the kiwi vines, no squares of bittersweet chocolate shared on the balcony as the sun sits itself down on the western horizon. No midnight constellations, unless I desire to stand outside -- barring a cloudcover -- and shiver while searching out Orion.

Can't it just be summer already?

And yet the speeding-up of time, of the seasons, brings with it the general speeding-up of life. Yin/yang, yes/no, here/there.

It's a persistent quandary, to which no answer if sufficient.


  1. there is always shortage of warmth and light there.

    I like that you have red chili lights -- that is a bold stroke against the darkness! Brava!

  2. Occasionally being alone with an animal or two is the best thing in the world, but usually it's not. Winter concentrates our emotions and they need to be shared.

  3. Being in the same position, at least in broad outlines, I'll think about the idea that "it's more dark when leading a solitary life." I do like what Cro Magnon said in his last sentence; I think both parts of that are true. The grayness can indeed permeate everything.

  4. I really like this evocation of place and season -- and the way you weave melancholy and humor into it is great.

    I'm wishing for sun and light for you, though, and community --