Wednesday, October 7, 2009

FADING TO BLACK

It begins with a final wash of gold high in the top of the tallest sycamore. As if the changing leaves had been varnished with bright, warm light. All the surrounding trees are dark, lost in the shadows of twilight. Only this old monarch, it's west-facing crown higher than those of its brethren, witnesses the day's final moments.
In the riffle and the pool above, other trees paint the water with their reflected hues. A fish stirs, takes something off the surface; quickly another feeds. This edge of darkness is the magic hour for the angler, the bewitching moment when the elemental veil seems to rend and water and sky becomes one, with you in the middle. Anything can happen. Your next cast might be that one you've dreamed about…but whether it yields a fish or mermaid, who can truly say?
The riffle begins to darken as the river cloaks itself in shadows. Objects such as stones and logs and clumps of leaves lose their details, turning into shapes—silhouettes of their former selves now surrounded by a flow of quicksilver blue.
And then even that is gone—and the only remaining evidence of the day upon the stream is a single scattering of sparkles on the pool below. A handful of magenta embers, vestiges of the sun's ebbing flame which have somehow found their way through the trees covering the far bank.
You stand quietly and watch this corridor woods as the light winks between the trunks—the sun falling, falling, pulled over the horizon until it becomes merely a glow that quickly fades to black.
Then you glance back and up, wondering if the top of the tall sycamore still has the lost day in view—but now you see only a shadow, a towering dark ghost…for all is nothing without the light.

24 comments:

Jain said...

We were outdoors with our cameras about the same time, it seems.

Sometimes I try to remember what life was like when I just went outside, empty-handed.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

Actually, I was unloading two 50-lb. bags of bird food from the pickup and carrying them around to their storage bins on the front deck when I got sidetracked by the setting sun. I went back in, got the camera and—hoping for a nice sunset/photo op—stood around watching. No fiery sunset materialized…but I thought these shots of a typical fade-to-black twilight along the river were okay.

But I know what you mean about just walking around empty handed outdoors. You always bring something along—even if all it is is a greater understanding, say the names of things and their relationships to what's around. Ignorant, innocent, pure-pleasure are days forever gone. Alas…

Kelly said...

ohhhh....beautiful narration. I could feel that certain stillness that comes when the sun fades.

Bernie said...

Beautiful photo's Grizz, you have captured the beauty of the setting sun.....thank you for sharing my friend.......:-) Hugs

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

The setting sun is simplicity itself, a common magic…and yet unless there's a gaudy sunset, we often ignore the subtle shift from light to dark. I like to explore and consider—and write about as best I can—these overlooked transitions.

I'm glad you liked this.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

I love sunsets (also sunrises) even when all that happens is just that light and dark exchange places. There's still much to see.

Jayne said...

Beautiful Grizz... beautiful.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Thank you. I do love photographing the edges of the day.

Gail said...

HI GRI-

Just when I thought you could not capture any more natural essence and beauty you so have done just that. The night fall pictures of the rivers dance and your wrods of tribute to same are beyond my wildest expectation of imagining your world. I am so thrilled. You, once again, have taken my breath away.

Love to you
Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Fall is so pretty, as is twilight, that it's hard to make a bad photo of either. And the river is always lovely. Still, I'm glad I could capture and share an evening mood on my home stretch of water—and pleased you enjoyed it.

Hope you have a great autumn day…

Carolyn H said...

Griz: Nice post! I'm noticing that it's almost too dark for photos before or after work right now. i'm hoping the upcoming timechange will give me back the mornings for another few weeks.

Carolyn H.

The Solitary Walker said...

Fading to black... Edge of darkness... All is nothing without the light... Yes, I know this moment only too well.

Give me the fish. But, above all, give me the mermaids...

The Weaver of Grass said...

How mysterious it becomes at night, Scribe. I love this sequence, particularly that golden reflection in the water. You can imagine all kinds of night creatures out on the prowl.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

The dark is closing in, for sure. When I get up, it's still completely dark…and doesn't lighten up sufficiently for photos for another hour and a half. I'm often well into my day's work by then. And in the evening, I'll be doing something in early afternoon, look up and out, and realize I've already missed the bright late light, and now all I have left is a rushing twilight. Seems like it's all happened too quickly for me to adjust yet…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Solitary…

I imagine you would know—both literally and metaphorically—this transitional point. Just keep in mind that the morning does comes…always.

Re. those mermaids, I'll see what I can entice. (The smart money says you might have to settle for fish, however.)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

I love prowling the nights myself. It's then a familiar world recast into the strange and mysterious. And autumn is the perfect season for a midnight ramble…

Last night, one of the prowling creatures was a big raccoon, come to eat my bird feed I'd scattered atop a stump. Moon sent him packing.

Hildred and Charles said...

Your pictures are incredible, but your text stirs the imagination beautifully. Thank you for both.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Hildred & Charles…

Thank you, on both counts. I do try to use both as best I can.

Jenn Jilks said...

I love the changing light levels.

I love when I begin a task and can quit and do another. The problem is when I put down, say a bag of bird seed, and forget to put it away as I become distracted! Or forget to put the 20 lb. rock on top of the can and Rocky Raccoon hops in! It makes life so much fun. What can one do but laugh?!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

I know what you mean—and feel the same way.

And re. those mid-task intermissions…my problem is that I'm lucky to remember to close the lid on the can holding the birdseed (I did the other evening, but only by luck) let alone replace the rock. (Yes, a raccoon stopped by that evening, but because the cans are new, and their lids still fit tight, I don't yet need a rock; Mr. Marauding Coon couldn't get in—so he moved on to the cracked corn I'd scattered on the stump and ate every kernel.)

Grace said...

Beautiful, I'll have to remember to pay more attention to this time of day.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Grace…

It is a beautiful time, and a beautiful transition between light and dark, day and night. We notice the gaudy sunsets, but sometimes we overlook the subtle beauty that occurs one those times when the sun merely sinks below the western horizon…and yet this passage touches everything, from treetop to stream surface. Always worth watching.

Kelly said...

(...from your comment to me.....you're right! If it's not a "gaudy sunset" I often ignore the subtle shift, but when I'm present in the moment, I love that feeling of settling in for the night. I'm going to try to make it a point to pay attention when I'm out at that special moment...)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

I sure wasn't meaning to criticize you, even mildly…you do know that, right?

I just meant that we all—me especially!—tend to look for the big production, often missing the quiet beauty that's spread before us daily. Over the years I've tried to teach myself to look close for that soft, subtle…breathtaking beauty in nature's common and everyday.