Monday, November 24, 2008

Twilight (not the movie)

Today Molly and I got out for our walk a bit earlier than normal. We were in time to enjoy the twilight during much of the walk. At this latitude, the sun falls behind the single story houses to the west of the park at about 4:10pm this time of the year. That leaves the time from then until sunset at about 4:30pm in twilight, where there is a lot of backlight from the sky and ground scatter, but no direct illumination. Tall buildings like the grain elevator in the distance get that golden glow during this time of day. Any dust in the air is emphasized and turns reddish as the hour approaches sunset.

I personally like the twilight. In summer, it happens as late as 9:30pm and signals the beginning of the days cooling off out here on the plains. In fall, it reminds me that winter is on its way. There is a bleakness of the bare trees and the indirect light that foreshadows the coming of winter. In winter, the increasing lateness of the occurrence with the lengthening of the day brings hope for the revival to come. In spring, the backlighting emphasizes the coming of the buds and leaves on the trees. So the nature and timing of the twilight is another cue to the changing of the seasons, another clue that like is cyclic.

Given that it is pitch dark around here by 5:30pm at this time of year and will be dark by 4pm or so on the shortest day of the year here, twilight is a gift. (You do remember that Dec. 22 is the shortest day of the year don't you?) I know that my friends who suffer from SAD find the twilight depressing, Whether this is a conditioned response to the coming of winter or an actual reaction to the light is an open question. So do you enjoy the twilight? Or are you already hiding inside with the lights on? Planning on sitting in extra light to avoid the depression?


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