September 8th, 2002

caillebotte_man at his window

Watching Night Fade

A moonless night, but cloudless as well, so the late summer stars are bright. The chill air is stirred by the slightest of breezes, barely enough to make the pines go shhhh. I obey, and hear the sound of my breath in the darkness. The deciduous trees, which autumn soon will strip to their bare branches, and the pines, whose dark bulk will tower against the sky all winter, tonight frame and segment the dome of stars, which seems brightest in the southeast where Orion now rises ahead of the dawn. I cannot see the ground, but feel it as I hear my soft-soled footsteps on the pavement. Two notes sound for each step, one low and one higher. From the end of the driveway I can see, up the street, a single window lit. Reminded that I am not alone, I feel a sense of isolation. Far to the north, a sound rises. A car speeds down the road a block west, and soon passes unseen, but for the flash of its headlights on the undersides of the trees. I listen to its rush fade southward. Reminded of journeys, I feel a sense of stagnation. Standing in the enveloping silence, I am suddenly aware that there is no sound of insects. The crickets have not chirped tonight. Reminded that entire realms pass with the seasons, I feel a sense of transience. The night is barely vast enough to contain my desires. Then, quite suddenly, it seems, I see the white of the picket fence across the street emerge from the darkness. Night is fading, and most of the stars have vanished from the pale sky. How long have I stood here? I sense my house, which I had forgotten, looming behind me. I must return to its confinement. As I close the door on the waking world, I am struck by how much it is diminished by the light. I must seek the vast darkness of sleep.
caillebotte_man at his window

Breathing in the Evening

A few swirls of feathery cirrus clouds catch the afterglow of sunset. The larger clouds have been hanging over the mountains to the north again today. They tantalize me with the suggestion of rain, but the air remains dry. Barely a breeze has stirred all afternoon, and the evening is warm enough for the cicadas to be chirring again. Except for them, and a dog that barks, the world is silent, hanging on the edge of night. The sky at first shrinks as it darkens, but soon will expand with the emerging stars. The slender crescent of the waxing moon is concealed behind the trees to the west.

All this I observe with careful deliberation, as the temptation to wander off into one of my fantasy worlds is strong these days. I must remember to keep a grip on this concrete reality, lest I find myself waking, weeks hence, from some Atlantean dream, disgruntled at having been brought back to the dull world I haven't made. Things tend to fall apart when I go away. They fall apart when I stay, as well, of course. But at least, when I keep my presence of mind, I can do a bit of daily maintenance on them. I think I need something that tastes good. I think I need chocolate.