I took at walk around a lake before dusk the other evening. Before setting out, I frittered away my time (at the computer no doubt) so that when I left the house, even though it was very light outside, I knew that I'd be returning in the dark --probably. I'm an optimist and it gets me into trouble. Of course, there was no trouble; there was just a lack of light and a nagging feeling that someone would worry a little about me.
I bumped into an old acquaintance along the way and we chatted halfway around the lake and through the college campus. By the time I got back to the shoreline it was apparent that I'd be walking back in the dark. My feet on the path would be my eyes. The sky was clear and I could see Venus glittering to the west in a sky in deepening shades of a Maxfield Parrish blue.
Then I saw where all the ducks and geese were hanging out. It was nearly 9:00 p.m. The sun was down and the stars were starting to twinkle. There was still a lot of light in the sky but any shadows were just a suggestion rather than cast by any distinct light source. Everything was reflected or hinted at.
But the birds were busy as ever: scouting this way and that, tipping up and dabbling at something below or bossing each other around. As I write this, two days later, it's 06h45 and I know they are all up and at it: feeding, squawking and reacting to the life of a duck or a goose in the waning days of summer 2010. It's seamless really, a bird's life. Sleep but an interlude between the waking, wandering and wondering until the big bell clangs and it's time to go.
I felt my way home and avoided looking into the sky or even over to the lake because my light-deprived eyes were so attuned to to varying degrees of gray and black. A looming dark shape could be a mass of bushes in the distance or a tree trunk about the collide with my forehead. My depth perception was not dependable so I used the sounds of my footsteps to tell me whether I was on the trail. The lights were on at the college and they reflected off the lake's surface. A pair of black silhouetted mallards whooshed overhead to join their friends in the cove.
I made it home fine. The lights were on. I had to squint in order to see.
|colored pencil, ink|