The sky was gray, almost white. Dismal and perfect at the same time. The air was cool and chilly, and the birds were noisy, busy doing whatever birds do in the afternoon. Fluttering around in the bushes now, not high in the trees like they were in the summer.
Every bit of my surroundings shouted (very quietly) ‘late November’.
I’m no good at transitions. A few days after Christmas, people are ready to move on. They throw out the wrapping paper, they recycle the boxes, they take down the tree. January 23rd, and I’m still trying to squeeze in every moment, every song, every note I missed.
That cricket. That damn cricket. The last cricket.
He had to be in the house. Sometimes I walked in the kitchen, and he’d stop, and then seconds later he’d start back up. That cheep was always good for a tug, or a smile, somewhere back in the emotional part of me. It was the sound of something vaguely reassuring. I don’t know, a warm muggy night? You go outside and it seems the whole neighborhood is asleep. Maybe a lazy pause in the dark, on the cement step at the end of the walk. He sounded like the moment you were alone with the trees and the stars and the balmy air and the sounds of the last bits of summer.
It’s one of those microseconds when you look up with hopeless hope that somehow there’s still some summer left, and that’s all it lasts. A microsecond.
Embers flare and trail to the dark. A darkness thick and quiet.
Intermittent quiet … sporadic cracks flicker and pop. An abrupt smack, and another, and then another, catapult the burning sparks up into the emptiness above.
I look up and follow the trail of random lines and tiny lights. It could have been the smoke hanging above a campfire on a summer night. Or the puffs of smoke at a Christmas tree lot in the middle of December. But this was no campfire, and there was no festive holiday music. The smoky fog hovering around me fills the air with a mood that makes you want to hide, tuck your head, wrap your arms around your legs. Hide.
Heat distorted air around the fire whips into smoky remnants and a transparent film snakes its way up, part of the wind. Higher. And even higher. Past the shadows of the trees and past the yellow crescent form of the new moon.
I could feel the chill in the air, and the damp mist, not freezing yet, but oppressive. A strange fusion of cold and warm. I’m sitting close enough for heat to reach my face, but the rest of me feels pale and sickly. Overheated and chilled at the same time. As if I was getting a fever, first the chills, even as a fever brings a warm flush to the face.
The scent of musty, maybe even acidic. Smoke. An onslaught to my sensors. Sizzling burnt wood and fiery embers.
The greens were subdued. Weathered by a summer’s worth of sun. Pockets of real color … gold … orange … rust … red … clustered in the branches above and gathered along the walkway. But the gentle yellows called quietly. Ahh … the soft, subtle yellows, practically sighed.
It was cloudy for weeks on end, it seems, and I couldn’t remember the last time I saw stars in the sky. And the moon? I think I saw a pretty crescent around twilight a week or so back.
Thursday night, I shut down my computer and switched off the lights, and the patterns on my desk took me by surprise. The old familiar lines and squares angled across the wood. So bright it lit up the dark room. My response was something like, what’s that?oh, the moon. Then one of those feelings that come with a smile, like … oh, the moon.
My eyes followed the trail of light out the window and upwards to the almost-full moon high in the sky, shining bright behind the leaves at the top of the trees
It’s high up there, over 100 feet, and you wouldn’t think I could see the silhouette of individual leaves from so far. But I could see them, the ones at the top, the highest ones, reaching upward, and with the aid of bit of a breeze, swaying and dancing around in the night sky. For a minute or two, the bright beautiful almost-full moon was right there with them, surrounded, framed, almost decorated.
Me? Well, I should not be surprised, should I, to see moonlight coming through a window. It’s a rather regular event. My days are full. I’ve got projects, plenty to do, exercise, walks. Life. And there are weightier issues, for sure. But this sameness, day after day, after a while, it dulls some kind of sensors in us. Well, in me, anyhow. Some strange malaise of the brain.
I looked out the next night. I guess I hoped to see the moon again. It was cloudy and I couldn’t see the moon. But … I saw a single star out a side window. Yes!
__________________________________ This is an old photo of mine from last year.