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Archive for the ‘New Hampshire’ Category

There is no word for the illumination the world holds after the sun has set, up here in the north. Not in English, anyway, and not in any other language I’ve heard of. (If anyone has a word for this (I imagine it would be from a Scandinavian or Arctic Circle country) please let me know so I can use it as a loanword))

Technically, the word is ‘twilight.’ Yet, twilight connotes a darkness, and the evening light we enjoy during the summers up here in New England is not darkness, but a sourceless illumination that seems to come straight down from the sky, without casting shadows. It’s so easy on my eyes that I feel as if they were made for this summer evening light. After the sun sets, the air condenses as it cools, smells intensify, (smells of grass, of pine, sometimes, the scent of an emerging skunk) and the wind calms to nothing. Everything quiets down, and everything is cast in the sweet evening light. You can enjoy a campfire’s color, but still see everything around you. People’s eyes look bigger and softer, and their faces more slender.

When you walk in the fields in the summer evening light, distances seem shorter. The world is cozier than in the day. Flowers, their color bleached by the sun in the day, are now in Technicolor. When you walk in the woods in the summer evening light, you can see the sky through the canopy of leaves. The canopy is so dark it’s almost black, so the patches of sky beyond it are sunset pink cutouts of light.  Things seem closer than they really are, and the forest seems to close in on you. Pools of water on the shadowy ground become bright, jagged-edged mirrors of the sky above. If you are on a lake, and in a canoe, the water turns to glass, then it becomes a double of the sky above, and the shoreline is a mirror image of itself. The beauty may be pierced by the call of a loon.

Here in New Hampshire, the forest is at its most quiet immediately after the sun sets. The bird songs fade, and the squirrels and chipmunks (which rustle through the leaved during the day, sounding louder than a moose) are safe in their nests. If you are in a clearing, the only sound is that of crickets. The moon grabs your eye with its luminescence, even though it’s not yet dark enough to see the stars. And once it is dark enough for the stars, the evening light is gone, replaced by night.

Standing in the summer evening light is more delicious than swimming in the lake in the day.

 

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