Finally, I went indoors, returning for another look a quarter of an hour later. The light had still not returned. Later still, the sky did grow a bit overcast, and many patches of stars dimmed or vanished altogether, but I never saw the bright light again. Now I'm no longer sure if what I saw was in fact Venus, or some strange celestial phenomenon. The conjunction of the three is to be repeated tonight, not long after sunset, with the moon even closer to the two planets than it was last night. I'll try to remember to go out on time. If what I saw last night was Venus, it was brighter than I can recall ever having seen it. The sight tonight ought to be quite splendid.
It is pleasantly cool this morning, and I hear the sound of lawn sprinklers up the block, and the chirping of the morning birds. The sky remains slightly hazed, but only enough to soften the first rays of the rising sun that are now burnishing the tops of the pines. The air, alas, still smells of gardenias, but I see that several of them are rapidly turning brown. A few even slightly cooler days, and the end of the gardenia season, will be nice. Unfortunately, my spider is still missing. I had hoped that it might emerge from some hiding place, but it appears to be gone forever. I'll miss my tiny arachnid companion.
Here's something (unearthed by scottobear) for any photographers reading: AutoStitch is a fully automatic 2D image stitching application, not yet commercially available, but a free demo version is available from their site. The examples in their panorama gallery are impressive.