Memories of light

December 26 2012

+ Ash-dark flakes of snow falling against a neon-white sky.

+ The sting of mountain sunlight, while playing checkers outside the Café Girasoles. On the back of the neck, you could feel the burn beginning, a red stripe beneath the pink stripe of the insect bites. The chickens in the field, and the beautiful shadows of the defunct Ferris wheel, angular and so black that they had a little glow around their edges, as around the body of a swimmer seen from the below.

+ Piercingly clear Swiss alpine light gleaming on the breakfast plate like a coiled diamond necklace.

+ Taking a shower in Koenji -- the clatter of bright droplets -- the winter sun, that November, was weak, and gave almost no warmth -- but it filled out the steam and the steam distributed the light 'til the shower was a cube of bright vapor.

+ In the thick high-summer resinous smell of the sage and chaparral and monkey flower. The air very clear, the light hot on the path, pale dust on the leaves of the blackberry tangles and that shimmering out-of-focus glow in the masses of white thistledown scattered in the bushes by the wind. The shock is getting to the top of the ridge, looking out over a sea of bright fog, perfectly opaque and rolling like a plowed field, a prow of fog advancing slowly up into the valley like a ship.

+ At Sagaponack: Montauk daisies, talc-fine sand, and the dazzle of bright light of a very special kind -- cool, not hot; planar rather than diffuse; palpable and not liquid. It descended from the trees to the grass where we walked like a bolt of fabric unrolled.

+ Swimming in cool, deep oakmoss green velvet water after the pine needle, quartzite sun morning. A hand on their boat, feeling like one of the dolphins that leapt by Dionysus's craft, once he revealed himself a god, vine tendrils in the rigging.

+ The little white shed illuminated by the halide floodlight in that night, so bright with the circle of radiance falling rapidly away into the kind of pagan night that comes when Fenrir finally devours the sun. During the day, huge white clouds move slowly across the sky, sometimes trailing thick curtains of gray rain across the floor of the world, rain that lashes the roof of the barn like chains.

+ The gorgeous, burning glow of a milky Arctic sunlight as white as glacier milk. The chirping of a wind turbine spinning in the constant rush of cold air on a farm on the island farthest north. The clouds are fast and very low, it seems, as though drawing close to the place where the sea meets the sky, or everything spills over the edge of the Earth.

+ Lightning bugs flickered and swarmed over the paramo grass in the dark. The clouds began to clear, the hidden stars shining gradually through, first Venus only and then many -- clearer and clearer, vast systems of stars, tangles, clouds of stars. All out to the soft depth of the Milky Way. And on the clouds of the eastern horizon: reflected flashes of lightning, huge, sudden clouds in negative, the glow of lightning over the Amazon.

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