Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Drive Home

My windows are rolled down, as usual, but the air feels different.  It doesn't yet feel cool and crisp as it does in the autumn.  In fact, the air is still distinctly summerish.  But it's different.  And I don't realize what it is until I catch the faint smells of chlorine, of steak grilling, of sweat, of freshly cut grass.  These are smells of goodbye, smells of people doing last-minute summer activities before autumn comes.  This is what is in the air--the difference that I feel.  It's not quite summer, not quite fall, but some kind of unnamed season that comes in between the two.  It is some kind of unnamed season that blends the two.  The wind blows.  The trees clap their hands.  The world feels alive, yet sleepy, as though it knows a colder, darker time is coming and it must finish its adventures while it still has the vitality to finish them.  Then, it can rest.

And I look up into the sky and fall in love with the colors there as they reflect off the clouds.  The clouds aren't puffy.  They seem to have been stretched out, as if they don't know exactly where they want to be.  So they just scatter everywhere, and the light that falls upon them seems cautious, almost afraid, as if its not sure the clouds are really supposed to be there at all, or if its supposed to shine on them.  The result is that they kiss the clouds with just the most delicate touch of pale, hauntingly beautiful color.

Blue is my favorite color.  I like the blue of the summertime sky when the sun is out and the clouds are full, but my favorite shade of blue doesn't come until the sunset.  Here the blue fades into a darker, deeper hue.  The daytime blue is rich and alive, but the evening blue seems secretive, as if it is hiding some precious and mysterious knowledge.  And once again there is something unnamed.  There is no name for the color that occurs when the sunset's orange blends with the evening blue.  But I know it must exist, for there is a place where the blue ceases to be blue and becomes orange, and where the orange ceases to be orange and becomes blue.  And in that place there is something that is either too faint or too powerful for my eyes to perceive.  Still, I try to see it.

I stop at a stoplight and look at the streetlights as they fail in their attempts to shine more brightly than the sunset before me.  And I think about how in a few short months, I'll be driving home by their artificial illumination alone.  The days will be shorter.  The sun will sleep earlier and wake up later.  The darkness and the coldness is coming, and maybe there will be a time when autumn will blend with winter into another unnamed season.  We'll make that last loaf of pumpkin bread and put away the Indian corn, and we'll pull out the hot cocoa and Christmas decorations.  And in that in between time?  We will reflect.

I pull into my apartment's small parking lot while some familiar song plays on my car's speakers.  I sing along and roll my windows up.  I turn off the engine and the song stops, though I keep singing harmony as if the melody is still playing.  Then I take in a deep breath of the air in my car that is quickly growing stale.  It takes so little time for things to become stale. 

And I'm grateful for moments like these, when I see and hear, smell and feel.  Life is more than sensations, but they are a big part of the experience of life, as are seasons.  Sometimes, there will be stale moments, and sometimes it's even important to walk through those stale moments, clinging to the truths we know even when we are too numb to feel them.  But for the most part, life is meant to be lived.  And right now, I feel very alive.

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