Driving between two ridges at 4:15 on a Sunday evening in December. Here, in the valley, darkness comes early. It will arrive soon.
I have a long road ahead of me. To pass the time, I count the Christmas trees tied to the roofs of passing cars, 11, 12, 13… On one Saturday last year I counted 52.
Kaleo sings on the radio: Oh Father tell me, do we get what we deserve?
As I make the slow and winding ascent out of the gray and leafless valley, I see the mountain far ahead awash with orange. Golden Hour is sliding down the trees on either side of me.
I round the curve into a clearing and I am overwhelmed by the brightness. I gasp, and smile.
The world, dull and gray just moments ago, now hits me like a wall of vivid technicolor.
A flash of yellow on my retinas and a shot of serotonin to the brain.
Everything is clear. Everything is calm. The edges are soft and subtle, aglow in gold.
A wave of warmth washes over my body, and my eyes well up with tears.
The sheer and shimmering beauty of this moment. The purity and complexity of this vibrant breathing rotating world.
My eyes are wide open. I don’t want to miss any of this. I breathe in the lightness of being right here in the glimmer. To my left, the trees on fire. To my right, the sun setting in a swirling sea of cotton candy rainbow sherbet. I look from side to side as I travel along the highway. I feel like flying, floating. I am suspended between day and night. The receding light and the coming darkness. With thoughts and words, I paint myself into this moment. I capture it in my mind, and hold it in my heart, to carry me through the darker days ahead.
I have stopped counting the tied down trees. But Christmas is still heading home. And with it comes the gift of lighter brighter days. I fix my gaze on the fading glow in the rear view mirror as I head east, into the Blue Hour.