November 22nd, 2002

caillebotte_man at his window

Late Turning Early

The moon has thrown an immense halo around itself, its light caught in gossamer cloud. Earlier, Orion was draped with billowing robes of grey and silver cirrus. The high pressure which brought the warm winds has certainly left the desert. Tonight, a soft breeze comes more from the east than the north, and has the cool freshness of the mountains in it. I think of the mirroring tarns cupped in granite bowls, awaiting the snows that will replenish them, and moonlit freshets leaping down rock courses under the feet of the highest pines, and the pines themselves, gnarled and wind-bent, clinging to ancient beds of cracked stone.

A car passes on the road to Oroville, and I watch the light of its headlamps illuminate patches of ponderosa, flickering from one tree to the next, until it is obscured by thicker growth to the south, and the sound of the engine fades into silence. But I imagine the car running down the long ridge, to where the road begins to wind along the edge of the canyon, the headlights flashing out into darkness far above the river, then turning to catch the trunks of the trees on the west side of the road. Then, below the tree line, spreading across the broad fields of dried brown grass under the swarms of bats returning home in the paling dusk of early morning.

My thoughts stretch out easily, taking in places ever more distant, like a ghost flitting among the shadows of a half-remembered world. All the movement of the night crosses my mind; the grazing deer, the prowling mountain lion, the hunting owl, the rumbling trucks, the early commuters, the aimless wanderers, the falling leaves, the smoke curling from chimneys, the breakers rolling onto the sand. But here, once the sound of the car has passed, there is no sound of movement but the faint stir of air in the trees, a single bark from a distant dog, and my breathing as I take in the night, and let it out.
caillebotte_man at his window

Sunset, after all

Hmmm. Looked as though there might be rain, with heavy clouds all afternoon, until sunset sent brilliant light across the forest, turning the trees bright. If it is clearing in the west, then these clouds will most likely move on, leaving no moisture behind. I'm going out now, to look at the last golden light.