html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Must be the one in Plumas.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Must be the one in Plumas.

I stepped off the train in Sacramento and thought 'fire'. It is the fire light, orange tints in the blue, thick and blurry, a faint rich smell that means the mountains are burning. In a few hours, my throat will ache. We don't get it here like in LA, when the San Bernadinos burn. Then skies go grey and red, and at recess, soot would fall on our hair and sleeves and smudge our books.

I watch the light change all year. White behind the blue in winter. Clearest in the spring, until it greens in the summer. In fall the light slants yellow and my heart hurts for another year gone. In October one time, I was walking with a guy who had just moved out from the East Coast. I said, wistful, "Oh fall is here. Look how yellow the light is." He asked "Are you telling me that you notice the changing of the seasons by the quality of the light?", but we don't need that garish "leaves dropping" and "snow" that you East Coasters are always on about. We have the mountains on the horizon and the light in between.


Anonymous D said...

so very few people ever talk about light as a photograpehr does... is that something else you do? Although I must say that the angle of light in autumn is my precursor to the bright clear days of winter when the sky is so clear, like crystal, you fear it will break. ...and I can spend a whole day just breathing... and the light is so curious that it shines under the brow, just to reveal the true color of an eye...
yes, glorious light.

Sorry that the inspiration is a fire. While they are like all things needed, fires are best short. The acrid taste, the cough, the stinging eyes, hopefully soon gone.


7:59 PM  
Blogger billo said...

With your indulgence,

"...[a]t one point something happened that I never could have imagined. The light of the sun shot down from the opening of the well like some kind of revelation. In that instant, I could see everything around me. The well was filled with brilliant light. A flood of light. The brightness was almost stifling...The darkness and cold were swept away in a moment, and warm, gentle sunlight enveloped my naked body. Even the pain I was feeling seemed blessed by the light of the sun...I could see the stone walls that encircled me. As long as I was able to remain in the light , I was able to forget about my fear and pain and despair. I sat in the dazzling light in blank amazement.

Then the light disappeared as suddenly as it had come. Deep darkness enveloped everything once again. The whole interval had been extremely short..the flood of sunlight had gone before I could begin to comprehend its meaning.

After the light faded, I found myself in an even deeper darkness than before. I was all but unable to move...A very long time went by, it seems. At some point I drifted into sleep. By the time I sensed the presence of something and awoke, the light was already there...Without thinking I spread open both my hands and received the sun in my palms. It was far stronger than it had been the first time. And it lasted far longer. ..In the light, tears poured out of me. I felt as if all the fluids in my body might turn into tears and come streaming from my eyes, that my body itself might melt away. If it could have happened in the bliss of this marvellous light, even death would have been no threat. .. I experienced a wonderful sense of oneness, an overwhelming sense of unity. Yes, that was it: the true meaning of life resided in that light..."


11:15 PM  
Anonymous Thelonious_Nick said...

I'm reminded of the Flemish and Dutch painters in the 19th century who would travel to southern France to paint because the quality of the light was so much better. Having spent much time in northern Germany I can sympathize because even in the summertime the light there seems wan.

I'm not sure I've ever specifically noticed the quality of the light in the US, though.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Amelia said...

But the light does change with the seasons here on the East coast as well! I've also noticed it in Germany and other countries in Western Europe. Only in London it never seems to change much.
Anyways, that was beautiful. People pay so little attention to these things. Maybe it used to be different, when they were more dependent on nature and the weather and the seasons.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


London may be the air pollution. Holland can be pretty grey and flat, too.

Did you know Americans call it 'fall' but Brits call it 'autumn'? Fall is actually the older usage, as used by Shakespeare.

I'd say everyone now knows the 2 usages, but when I first moved to the UK 30 or so years ago I encountered people who actually asked me if I meant 'autumn'.

Intercity buses are known as coaches, a bus is something that stops locally.

The English epithet w--k-r was also unknown in North America, when I left it. It's pretty common now, I gather.

Two nations divided by a common language.

4:11 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home