We, anthropomorphizing madly, would have our various cats claim aloud that they are nocturnal animals. We had to break it to the beasts recently that they are not nocturnal -- rather, they are crepuscular. Or so said something we'd read, and crepuscular is such a nifty word that it stuck.
The various degrees of darkness, inner and outer, are, of course, a long-standing interest of mine. Take tonight, for example. Sunset 8:04 PM. Why do I know this ? Because of last year's arrival of a nasty letter from the Waltham DPW warning me that if I were to put out my trash too early one more time, I would be fined fifty bucks. Trash may go out an hour before sunset, not a minute earlier: who knew ? I didn't.
And -- who ratted me out ?
I confess: this crepuscule, in the rain, I hauled my trash out out eight minutes early. Mea maxima culpa, DPW.
Maybe it wasn't a snitch; maybe there is a branch of the DPW whose employees are tasked with scouring the various neighborhoods of our town for garbage scofflaws -- trash stream, meet revenue stream. The inner workings of our municipality are crepuscular.
So, I must ask, is this the outer darkness or the outer crepuscule ?
Spring, of course, seems neither. This is not Eliot's midwinter spring, this is springspring, and as much as I hold on to winter, the dead branches are draped with catkins on their way to fruition
and creatures are madly mating mid air and in shadowy bowers.
But, photographing, I seek out shadows, even cast my own over sun-drenched subjects to darken and deepen their colors and avoid shiny, blown highlights. Doing so I am not unmindful of my act of blotting out the sun --
which seems, somehow, sinful -- appalling, really -- willful opacity, turning back what is so graciously poured forth.
Why, even a leaf transmits light !
And the eye and the lens drink it up thirstily, never getting their fill --
wishing, even, for a geodesic, multi-facted eye --
all the better to spot the red creatures in the shadows --
the thronged landscapes underfoot
and the wonderful contraptions that have evolved for making more, more, more !
It is an art, I suppose, to avoid feeling strangled by the exigencies of one's particular life and maladies of the larger world, especially when they come neatly bundled, gift wrapped and tied with bow of helplessness -- these exigencies and maladies are a totally different type of grace, I suppose, one that calls for some response other than gratitude -- endurance, doing-what-one-can and so forth --
-- and one can sing, after all, about the green blade rising without pledging one's troth to any particular system --
-- and search out the light-bearing air beyond the wires --
-- which are, when viewed through a quantum lens, also transparent, as I am too, for that matter, sunblocking sinfulness notwithstanding --
From outer darkness, to outer crepuscule, to venturing out, alone, on a limb that extends into blinding sunlight and dazzling green --
-- stranger, sojourner -- leaving behind the great, unsolved koan of hope.