From darkness, light

Alicia BessetteI’m definitely not a morning person. I stumble around for twenty minutes or so before I’m even partially awake. I can count the sunrises I’ve observed on one hand, in addition to the sunrises I intended to observe, but slept through.

I’m really not a night owl, either. Past a certain hour, I’m useless. And very few are the activities I prize more than sleeping.

But some cherished memories — of formative friends — live in the darkness. On sleepovers in junior high, my best friend Carolyn and I would lay awake and whisper and laugh until tears rolled down our cheeks. In high school I snuck out of the house to meet another kindred spirit, my neighbor Dave. We’d talk and talk, and walk up and down the street just for the hell of it, Orion high in the sky.

I’ve hosted long summer-night gatherings on a certain deck in Plymouth, Vermont — head tipped back, feet propped, stars blazing. And I’ve hosted epic, roaring New Years Eve parties. (After one really robust bash, I woke up, looked out the window, and wondered whose boxers were in the snow.)

Maybe those prized nighttime occasions inspired me to create, in All Come Home, two thirty-something friends (bound by a certain tragedy, and a shared determination to overcome it) who are sort of reluctant night owls, like me. There’s Zell, widowed insomniac, who leashes up her elderly greyhound at three a.m. and lets him lead her around town. And there’s EJ The Muffin Man, who drives to his Main Street bakery in the bruised dawn. Zell and EJ aren’t true night people. But by default, they become fond of darkness, comfortable in it.

Anyway, I wonder if I’m mostly a dusk person. I love that transitional feeling as the sun sets and the moon rises, that changing of the guard. The shifting light, the sky colors and ground colors as they morph from glowing to shadows. During dusk there’s a balance to be admired, an accord, a transformative yin and yang all around, and a harmonious, subtle power.

Anyone else dialed in during dusk? What’s the most memorable sunset you’ve seen?

~Alicia Bessette

14 Replies to “From darkness, light”

  1. Hi Alicia,
    your new text makes us more and more curious about “All come home”. It is so interesting to get to know the characters stpe by step.
    We seem to be completely different concerning morning habits ’cause we are really early birds. We are used to get up at 5am every day. Even at the weekend we don’t sleep longer than 7.30am. You have so much more of the day…
    Even when we are on holiday and drive through foreign countries we often see the sunrise and enjoy the feeling of driving into daylight.
    But our most memorable sunset we saw in Norway on the North Cape in the summer of 2007.
    We remember it because it was more a combination of both sunset and sunrise together. And this was a very special feeling. Around midnigth the huge red ball dipped into the ocean and came out again after a while. The colours on the horizon were so overwhelming, I think my English is not good enough to describe this performance above the water. You stand there on the cliffs high above the water and can only be astonished about that great play of colours. We’ve never seen such a variety of red, orange and pink in the sky before.We could not sleep a minute that night.

  2. I’m very much a morning person. In fact, I’m in early morning now.
    Wednesday mornings are the best as I can enjoy my coffee, listen to the birds chirping and read Al’s latest post.
    For me, the best sunsets are in my home state of Arizona where the dust colors the sky in shades of red and orange topped with dark blue.
    Almost as good is being out on the Amazon River during a full moon. The moon sends a shaft of light onto the water that is spectacular.
    I remember an HMHS student trying to take a photo of the moon and I told him it was too dark to do that. “It’s Okay, I’m using the flash.”
    Thanks, Al. Good work.

  3. Oh, yes, walking under trees at dusk. A moment that needs attention, and goes so well with bluegrass music. Best sunset? My first trip out west, driving somewhere between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, the big sky all lit up.

  4. night person. all the way. just being awake right now to type this makes me sleepy. but at 2-3 am, watch out! i can write, read, hold wonderful conversations, and solve math problems. sadly, life refuses to let me live the way i should — by sleeping from 4-5am until the sweet sweet afternoon.

  5. I remember being determined to watch a gorgeous sunset while out camping with my husband. We were at a campground on the shores of Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful evening and I was determined to watch the sun slip down into the water on one of my favorite beaches in the world.

    So we dragged our lawn chairs across the camp road out into the sand. Then the deerflies started menacing us. And my husband, who had been feeling ill earlier, started feeling so terrible he had to crawl back to the tent and lose his dinner all over the dirt. We had to drive into town to my grandmother’s house so he could sleep in an actual bed.

    So much for that!

  6. Matt and I visited our friend and fellow writer Alan Barstow in northern Namibia five years ago, where he was stationed in the Peace Corps. One evening we were walking along a dusty road, and I was astonished to see an enormous full moon hanging low in the sky to my right, and to my left, and enormous sun.

    Here’s to writing into the wee hours; bluegrass musicians; the Amazon; Norway; Lake Michigan; and all the other beautiful places in the world that inspire us.

  7. I used to think dusk deserved a lovelier name since it sounded too much like “dust,” but perhaps that’s appropriate as dusk wipes away the dust of the day.

    Prettiest sunset — and most poignant now — was from The Windows on the World restaurant atop of the Twin Towers where NYC met the sky and city lights merged with the setting sun.

  8. Dusk often gives me a lump-in-the-throat, bittersweet kind of feeling, especially in spring and fall. Something about how it brings out the best in the transitioning seasons, but also makes me yearn for things past or things to come.

    But I also find I get some of my best work done then.

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