Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The golden hour

It is just past 7:30 p.m. on a Tuesday evening and I am officially off duty. Both of my children have been tucked into bed and, while I know full well from the humming that can be heard in one bedroom and the swish of turning pages that is coming from another that neither child is actually asleep just yet, the hustle and bustle of baths and stories and "tickling teeth" is all behind me now. With Paul not yet home and an easy meal waiting to be prepared, I feel no great compulsion to start dinner just yet. The house is picked up, my "to do" list is appreciably shorter than it was this morning and the dryer is busily spinning the last of my whites for the day. I have poured a glass of red wine, the first thing I've actually done for myself in many hours, and I'm absently looking out my dining room window as I take my first sip.

I may have just said "good night" to my children, but it's clearly not night time outside my window just yet. The time change and the approach of summer and the fact that we are living in a city that is so far north have all conspired to provide us with a lot of natural light these days. I open my eyes to daylight far earlier than I'd ever actually consider starting my day and the sky stays bright here well past 9 p.m. already, though it's not yet even June. Now, at a little past 7:30, it's still clearly daytime out there, and yet the sun has lowered just enough that all of the buildings I can see on the horizon are bathed in a luminous golden glow.

Several hours from now, when the sky is dark, I'll be able to look out this window and spot the lights of the London Eye to help me to orient myself to the city. I never tire of that sight, or of that "pinch me" feeling which reminds me of my early days of working in Rockefeller Center (before I got bored and jaded and wished they'd just take the damn Christmas tree down and shut up the ice rink so that all those bumbling tourists would go home and stop messing up my commute). It's too early for me to see the Eye now, though; to be honest, with this strange light, it's hard to identify much of anything. What I'm looking at is little more than a mishmash, one big gilded expanse of buildings. As much as I love the sight of familiar London landmarks like the Eye, I don't really miss them right at this moment. The buildings before me may not be identifiable, but they're nearly iridescent in places, and the warmth of that illuminated skyline perfectly matches the calm that's finally settled over my home.

I spend the next 15 minutes trying to capture the view on camera. I'm a lousy photographer, though, and I'm working with a little point and shoot Nikon designed for capturing first teeth and dance recitals, not a vibrant city on the cusp of evening. I just can't seem to get that warm glow to come across in my snapshots. My photos are ordinary images of a distant city skyline, without any of the brilliance or the magic I can so clearly see with my own eyes. Eventually, I give up and put down the camera. There are other ways to capture this moment. I won't waste any more of my golden hour fiddling around with a camera. I may not be guaranteed to remember this sight from my photos. But I can burn it into my memory nonetheless.


Blogger Gina said...

Once again, your writing makes me feel like I'm right there looking out the window with you. Sounds wonderful.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Ahhh. I love this post. But I'm kind of stuck on the "kids in bed at 7:30 -- dinner to be had later" idea right now. You mean, not everyone has the crazy-free-for-all that dinner is at our house every night? The 6:00pm dinner time -- with 3 young and wild children at the table?! There is an...*gasp*...alternative?!


8:55 PM  

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