“The French called this time of day ‘l’heure bleue.’ To the English it was ‘the gloaming.’ The very word ‘gloaming’ reverberates, echoes — the gloaming, the glimmer, the glitter, the glisten, the glamour — carrying in its consonants the images of houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the shadows. During the blue nights you think the end of day will never come. As the blue nights draw to a close (and they will, and they do) you experience an actual chill, at the moment you first notice: the blue light is going, the days are already shortening, the summer is gone.” — Joan Didion, from Blue Nights
Last night, unplanned, on our way to visit the beaver, we walked the new .6-mile loop trail in our town. Mosquitoes were afoot, the air and ground dark and shadowy in places and becoming murkier, so we hurried, navigating less by sight than by feel, losing our way only once. Besides the crunch and twang of feet and arms catching branches, the muffled thump of shoes butting low stumps, the trail was silent — until we surprised crows in a small clearing, and then it was raucous with rattled caws and startled wings, a black rising.
We felt the light slip away until we emerged from the woods into the gloaming at 7:40 p.m., the sun having set 25 minutes before, an hour and fifteen minutes earlier than on the summer solstice. And three hours later than it will set on the winter solstice, a few months away.
I say we hurried, but we also slipped through time, bewitched by the glamour of the darkling unfamiliar familiar pine needles, ferns, mosses, rocks, roots, suspended between earth and night, conjuring stars.
“‘The sun has set, but night has not yet fallen. It’s the suspended hour… The hour when one finally finds oneself in renewed harmony with the world and the light,’ [perfumer] Jacques Guerlain liked to say. He was referring to his favourite moment, when ‘the night has not yet found its star.'”
Wednesday Vignette is brought to us by Flutter & Hum.