May 18th, 2002

caillebotte_man at his window

Fading Spring

At the house up the street, the other side of the dogwood tree, one of the yard lights has been left on tonight. The dogwood's blossoms have given way to the new leaves, which are a translucent pale green. Lit from behind, late on this moonless night, they seem white. In the still air, they are like a frozen cloud of dimly luminous white butterflies.

It is cool, tonight. Yesterday, the afternoon was almost too hot for a pleasant walk. I kept to what little shade there is on the road leading east, until I reached the heavily wooded street at the edge of town. There, only a few patches of sunlight make their way through the trees. The shade was cool. It is now a street of darkening green and of muted color from the fading flowers. It is very restful there.

This spring seems abbreviated. Less than the usual amount of rain means that the fields are drying early, and brown is beginning to show through the green grasses and the patches of wildflowers. Summer's lassitude is creeping up, a full month before the solstice. But in the irrigated yards of the residential streets, only the prematurely faded flowers give any hint of this. And, in the night, drained of all intense color as it is, there is no hint at all; unless, perhaps, it is in the absence of the fragrance of spring, and in the subtle hint of dryness in the air.

I gaze for a while at the dogwood tree in the pool of light, and listen to the crickets, and breath the cool, dry air. Because the light is on, the stars are paled, but the rest of the night seems darker than usual, in contrast to this small bright patch. As I often do, I think for a moment that I could stand here in this moment forever, frozen like that illusory cloud of butterflies. But the constellations are wheeling in the sky, and the northeast will soon grow pale. Tomorrow will come, a bit closer to summer, and fall, and next winter. I go back into the house and close the night and its magic outside the door.
caillebotte_man at his window

Delta Breeze

This afternoon, I awoke to the scent of damp air. The breeze blowing in from the Sacramento Delta had brought enough moisture to create clouds and bring a refreshing coolness to the day. At the edge of the wooded canyon, I heard a very complex bird song. Several groups of trills of several notes each. I don't think it was a lark. It was more elaborate. I was unable to see the bird itself, but the song was loud enough to be heard over the hum and rustle of the trees during the strong gusts of wind. It seemed an appropriate song for the bright, blustery day of scudding white clouds and fluttering leaves.

I also saw a group of blackbirds, which, at first, I mistook for young crows. There was some fuss going on among them, and they chased each other through the pines with much chattering. They reminded me a bit of the guys who now, with the end of school, are driving around town shirtless, radios blaring, shouting greetings at one another as they speed along the narrow roads. Ah, youthful exuberance!

This evening, the clouds have thickened and the evening light glows through a mother-of-pearl sky. Maybe I will have time for another short walk. Maybe I will be lucky enough to get caught in one of those brief spring showers which dampens the leaves and flowers, and then breaks up in time for the sunset to make the droplets of water glisten and bejewel the fresh green of the forest.