That Light

It’s here, this month whose interior symbol might be a single lamp beside a deep-cushioned chair. It is dusk. A mug of tea steams on a table beside the chair; an unread book you have been saving for the whole fall lies there slimly. You are there, or long to be.

But beyond the window, the land emerges, shows off its bones, eyes too now the open sky. And from that sky comes light, abbreviated, yes, but in its slanting brevity, in its course through the now bare trees, in its necessity, the November light is…Um, how to avoid? It is Concord, after all. Go ahead. Um, okay…transcendent.

Now, you’ve done it. The ghost of Henry Thoreau can’t be far away. Here, as if summoned, he is: “There is just as much beauty visible to us in the landscape as we are prepared to appreciate, — not a grain more…The Scarlet Oak must, in a sense, be in your eye when you go forth.” (Autumnal Tints)

It is another scarlet tree “in [my] eye” before I emerge each morning and hope for the sun near the roofline of south school. One of the two guardian maples in the West Parking Lot has been putting on a show; its companion is racing redly to catch up. When the light and the day are gray, the whole tree vibrates against this dullness; in the sun it is second fire. When I walk home in the dusk, the maple is still lit.

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Only in November.

One of my colleagues has a watch that reads October 32nd today. The thought of overextending October should be enough to tighten your embrace of November. It is the wonder-month for light.

Welcome to it.

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