This time of year is lovely and I usually write a column about the turning seasons, noticing the small things like the microbial reasons autumn smells so good. But I am not ready to turn seasons yet.
No, it makes no difference whether or not I am ready, yet my mind is stubbornly resisting this wondrous turn of the Earth casting a spell as cozy as Spring is rapturous. The Earth’s axis has moved so that the Sun is now directly over the Equator, the Sun’s energy evenly distributed between the northern and southern hemispheres. Maybe that’s my problem — I feel that equanimity and don’t want it to move in either direction.
I do like that the “Golden Hour” (the last hour before sunset) is earlier in the day. It is such a magical few minutes when the sun paints whatever it kisses with buttery light. Most of what we see is gilded with an even layer of golden rays and so the outliers cast even sharper edges on their dark shadows. It feels like an undeserved gift. Like the autumn Sun’s equanimity, I want to hold it and never let it go or change.
Not every golden hour offers magic, sometimes it’s just a moment of supreme peace riding on the beauty of it all. Then sometimes there is magic, like when I rode my bike for the first time after two months of rehabbing from surgery. That first ride was during the Golden Hour and before I even got to the willow trees along the water’s edge, I was already intoxicated by the colors of light and water. One scene was more beautiful than the next and I couldn’t believe how much I had missed it. Then, as I was on the return loop three quarters along the State Park road, just before it curves back toward the entrance, I saw something moving in the tall grass. I glided slowly to the other side of the road and stopped, slipping my phone from my pocket.
The dark shape was on the far side of the field. Looking past the figure through a partial clearing, I could see people walking and riding their bikes two hundred feet on the other side of the trees and shrubs from the drama unfolding before my eyes. Suddenly it leaped, no hopped, paused, and then leaped in a zigzag pattern. It was a coyote chasing a rabbit or mouse I could not see. It would stop then start again until finally it looked as though he or she got what it was chasing, all the while I was recording this secret world hiding in plain sight.
Two gifts — the Golden Hour and the dance of predator and prey. On the lakeside it is not so unusual to see an eagle, osprey, or hawk dive to the water and lift off with a fish in it’s talons. But on the dry land side, taking place just on the other side of a tree line from unsuspecting pedestrians? That was special.
Come to think of it, the Golden Hour isn’t just earlier in the autumn, it is even more golden. It highlights the colors of turning leaves and makes the yellows and reds even more intense. If I was ready for the seasons to turn, I would love to write a column about it.