Flowers on Sunday in the Winter Light

I had to buy a new camera – well, as new as a seven year old camera can be.  This new camera loves me, and I love it.  We get along so very well.  Just as soon as I say, “Oh, look at this!” it replies, “Yes, indeed!” and off we go.

Usually I try to have something to write you on Sunday night, but the only thing I want tonight is the Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (or, as I thought of it at age 8 or so – the Bologna Club).  So while Lord Peter figures out who put the digitalis in the old general’s brandy (not making this up), I’m going to let Hal Borland speak for me, in a voice I don’t have the heart to find in myself without his gentle light:

No night, not even the Winter night, is quite as dark and silent as it seems.  Go out and accept the night on its own terms, even now, and it takes on new or long-forgotten meaning.  Walk a country road and you can see as well as feel the Winter night, light and alive in its own proportions.

Starlight is strangely brilliant, once you accept it.  The whole sky has its own glow, which silhouettes the trees and the hills.  It comes to life on a slope of frost-bronzed grass.  It is reflected from the frosty trunks of the birches.  It is magnified in the roadside pond, ice-silvered to mirror sheen.  It almost gleams from a rooftop, and it is reflected from a darkened window.  It is a cold, distant light, yet it is light that marks a path through the woods and gives shape and form to the roadside walls and rocky banks.

And though the insects are gone, the night is not silent.  No fox may bark, no owl hoot, and yet the night is alive with sound and movement.  The subtle movement and the infinitely varied voices of the wind.  A leaf scuffs along the road.  An oak tree, not yet completely naked, rustles crisply.  The grasses sigh.  There is the soft, intermittent whisper in the high tops of the elms.  And the towering hemlocks murmur among themselves with a voice quite different from that of whispering pines.

You walk, and you see and you hear, and it is ancient knowledge re-remembered.  No night is quite so dark as it seems, once you explore it; no night is without its familiar voices, once you are prepared to listen.

Hal Borland
December 2, 1951, New York Times
Collected in Sundial of the Seasons (Lippincott 1964)

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