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Lightening...s

Lightenings
El Greco: Allegory: Boy Lighting Candle in Company of Ape and Fool (1589-1592)
"I feel delighted just being here!"

The light never leaves for long this time of year. By four in the morning, the eastern horizon already stands clearly backlit with promise. Darkness has not yet overtaken the yard when I stumble out to close the garage door after supper, after nine. Days last nearly an hour longer here then did Front Range and DC days, and nights barely settle in before roused and on their way again. Late afternoon light grows fierce and we flee to the shady backside of the place once we've fetched the afternoon paper. I sit beneath the sacred apricot to relish the softening evening arriving. The cats follow the sun through the day, usually choosing the sunniest spot to warm their rapidly shedding fur and wait for The Grand Other's after school arrival and afternoon treat time. Light keeps about the same hours I keep here and throughout our exile, I never adapted to more southern latitudes' spring and summer days, hot, humid, short, and stingy with light. I suppose the lightning bugs were compensation, charming yet inadequate.

My readers have commented that my writing has taken on a lightening since I started SettlingInto here.
Not even I can really remember what it was like here before we exited, so much of even my intuitive familiarity seems novel and different. The rooms seem to exude light on their own, cleverly rearranging whatever leaks in from outside. Half of the windows lack shades or curtains and do not want them. I sit at the breakfast table ducking my head to avoid glancing into the morning bright while reading The New Yorker. I could take a different seat, one not staring directly into the budding day, but I never do. I consider that dose of brilliance somehow essential to introducing me to this new day, this fresh existence, one properly lit for a change, one where shadows only amplify the light, producing a chiaroscuro effect on this canvas.

I'm learning to stage my chores so as to avoid working in the direct sun. I dug the garden through mornings and exited to work the shade through the long afternoons, or I ran errands then. I wear my long sleeves and havelock, Ray Bans always on, mindful of my mother's many bouts with skin cancer and cautions about too much of a good thing. Too much of great things might pose even greater danger. I remember my one trip to an Atlantic beach in season, when people flocked to bake their bodies on a sugar sand beach wrapped in suffocating humidity. I found a spot of shade and sat well out of danger, deeply troubled by what I witnessed. It could not be that they didn't know what that sunlight was doing to them. Theirs seemed a dance with doom, easily avoided but embraced instead. I felt disgusted.

By August, this valley will become a bake oven. The scents of wheat harvest will leave a fine dust coloring sunrises and sunsets. We might lock ourselves inside and pull whatever curtains we will have installed and we might forget how soft and sweet spring sunlight seemed. I expect that we'll open windows through the night and only begrudgingly close them up tight midmorning to avoid cooling the neighborhood. We might grow weary of Lightenings, even of the enlightenments it imparts. I'll still be wearing my long sleeves and long pants. I wouldn't wear shorts in Hell, much less in this heaven or even to the store. I'm paranoid, for sure, but also comfortable in my skin which in this season seems to stretch from horizon to horizon, from what was just before the middle of the night almost into the middle of the night following, with barely four hours off for good behavior or something. I feel delighted just being here!

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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