The times, they are a changin’…
Every year at about this time, there comes a day when you can see that the light has changed. In the height of late June and early July there is a bright, clear barely yellowish light that can make me squint. It brightens the hues of water and trees and flowers to the clear blues and greens and reds of summer. It is the light we swim and barbecue in. It is the light we pick peas and beans in. It is the light that transitions to those indescribably clear sunsets that linger past 8:00 while we swat mosquitos and gulp cold drinks with ice clinking in moisture beaded glasses. When I was a little girl, I spent long day at the beach with cousins. We swam in the painfully cold ocean until we went blue and numb. Then we climbed onto the granite ledges and lay down in the sun. I have such a visceral memory of sun scorched stone radiating heat that penetrated through my chilled muscles straight into my bones. Then when we were warmed through and began to sweat from the heat, we plunged back into the shockingly cold water whooping and shrieking and splashing each other. There is no sepia quality to those memories. They are bathed in bright, barely yellowish light, limpid and exhilarating.
Then comes the moment when it all changes. The yellow light deepens and becomes more golden. The second week in August, the 12th or so, brings a golden quality that softens and deepens the color of water and trees and vegetables at the farm stands to the richer fuller blues and greens and yellows and oranges tipping toward fall. This mellower light ushers in the season of ripe corn and tomatoes you can pick and eat right in the garden while they are still a bit dusty and let the juice run down your chin. It brings the season of school clothes shopping, of putting a light blanket back on the bed, of evening stars on the western horizon. It fills me with a sudden urge to get in all the “lasts” of summer:the last swim, the last picnic, the last tenting in the yard adventure, the last, the last, the last.
Like some ancestral memory, my inner cave woman recognizes this sepia light as a sign that winter is coming. It is time to dry, freeze, can or otherwise preserve the harvest. It is time to lay by firewood. It is time to haul the duvet out of the linen closet and start it airing on the clothes line. Soon the frost will come and kill the basil. Soon we’ll be taking the yard furniture back to the basement or barn. Soon we will be lighting smudges in the wood stove to drive away the morning chill. Soon, soon, soon.
And I have a fierce urge to start knitting socks, hats, mittens, sweaters, shawls, anything that will keep me and those I love warm. I knit until my hands cramp and my neck aches. I stay up later at night and get up earlier in the morning to finish just one more thumb increase or toe decrease, just one more stripe, just one more repeat, just one more row. I start dreaming about heavy cables and fluffy, halo-ey brushed alpaca.
Last week it was raining and the light was mostly gray. But yesterday I saw it. That mellow golden sepia toned light is here. It is time to start that honeycomb sweater for myself, and the shawl and the felted slippers and the fingerless mitts…oh, and all the Christmas presents. It’s time. Winter is coming.