Monday, September 30, 2013

Light in the Forest


Flowers in the Garden of Memory:   
            The light in a grove of trees, while walking the road past Stockbridge Lake. All the trees lined straight and slender with just enough space between them to see their leaves, and all their leaves turned pale yellow or a little brownish orange, or the green thinned out on the way to turning, a pale subtle color adding to the delicate palette. And the light angled, almost flat from the setting or even now fully set sun, shining horizontally through the leaves, so we saw them, trunks and leaves lit from the top and the side and from the bottom up also, the light reflecting and reflections joining from all angles to make a vision for the eyes.

            It was like wallpaper for the world.

            The sunset, a few minutes earlier, watching it across the lake and over the line of mountain (a ridge line, really). A big cumulus cloud hovering over the ridge line like a giant zeppelin, the sort of space ship they use in sci-fi movies to show some other world, some alien super-civilization impinging on our own -- a looming cloud on the horizon that becomes in the end the whole horizon. This one though not so enormous as all that, but dominating the eye for its color, the solidity of its color. A steel gray mass in the center (just tiny cloud particles, we know, densed into darkness), lit up solid from the setting sun behind it.

            The sun has gone over the line of the mountains, but not yet over the edge of the greater convex world. So now the hovering mass is filled with a great ruddy round mouthful of color. Not exactly blood-red, but red-blooded, a sky-incarnadine statement of muscular cloud presence in a still otherwise clear-blue sky. Deep blue now. The cloud can no longer block the sun; the sun is behind and below it. It is only a kind of love game, after all. The light reaches its arms out and surrounds everything. Putting its arms around all that is. It glows, it swallows its own fire... Then, moments later, the accumulated cumulus mass turns a wine purple as the light sinks deeper, and twilight takes its own brilliantly restricted turn.

            The second day is Sunday, a sun day for the best of all suns. A great benevolent light shines on every moment of every passing image as we drive on the country ways where people live among the foliage, and the grasses they have planted, just being there. That's all they have to do, they make no more noise or commotion than the grass, less than the wind in the leaves. We see nobody.We drive along wonderful roadside stretches, miracles of revelation. When we get to the top of our lonely road, to the place where we turn into the forest, a field that is also the happiest of lawns has rolled up its grass for the season. The shorn grass lies wrapped in a spiral around itself, rounded tight in a platterful of grass-on-grass sandwich wraps, its shorn leaves now brown and stored for the winter inside its own labyrinth.

            We see clouds on the wide, silent water of Beartown Lake, the high woodland lake around which we pass in our own good time. The images of clouds are "reflections on a late September day." Grand illusions. Floating continents of appearance. We perceive them, though of course they are not there in body. If we dive into the water we will not find them, though illusions may find us. But they appear there on the surface, they look like themselves, perception is tricked. Lakes are the universe's trick mirrors, doubling the world for us.

            On a hilltop, after a short, sharp-enough and winded-climb, we find a yet higher lake that fills a mountain valley. Somebody says "the beavers." The beavers must be god's water builders then, building land out of water, moving trees to dam rivers and fill huge bowls of earth with water where nobody would expect it. On high we see them: water views, woodland banks, reflections.

            The beaver lake empties downward, falling on rock, and so a strange highland waterfall flowing fast in September drains downward into another beaver-land, a lake made swamp. We trundle down and then rise again around the marsh we thought left behind, and then open a backdoor to the mountains, a view we have no idea was there.

            It's those other mountains.

            Who and where are they? Always receding, a dwindling notion in the sky, but yet offering some silken resistance against the forces that smokily weigh against visibility. They shimmer, mirage-like, at the end of all things knowable by sight, by the senses, like the mind's last ideas.