Heat and Light and Other Beautiful Things

“Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt, and then the shadow sweeps it away.  You know you’re alive.  You take huge steps, trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet.”  – Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

It was a hazy morning when I woke up today.  Everything was different.

It was the conclusion of the thoughts I had been thinking when I woke up to the fog on Monday:  Everything is changing.  I had come to this, apropos of nothing, after my bizarre, tumultuous, and somewhat dangerous Sunday.  Then, Tuesday and Wednesday’s rising action into horrible climax had been: Everything is happening.  And the quiet revelation through this morning’s partial clouds at sunrise was:  Everything is different.

We had, on Tuesday, celebrated a Winesday in honour of Kat M., who was visiting en route to another adventure.  I did not immediately ponder the peculiarity of a having a stranger from the internet come stay with me, because…this is the era in which we live.  We dip into the electronic inkwell to find our mates and our friends.  We airbnb for our lodging.  We Seamlessweb for sustenance.  It seemed perfectly normal for a sight-unseen electronic friend to greet me in my own apartment upon my arrival at home on Tuesday night.

Also, for heaven’s sake, it was Kat!

So that night, the WoWs powWoW’d and we had a sleepover, and all was as well as it could be under some some unexpected circumstances.

More on Kat’s visit another time, though.  Because a recap of that excellence is required reading — the moment for writing about it just isn’t right now.

It is January, if you know what I mean.  It is that time of year when the trees are stripped bare, and both the morning and evening light are still small.  The air is chest-tighteningly uncomfortable to inhale.

And one thinks:  I don’t remember a time, ever, when it was light and warm.

And one sits in one’s office and looks out at the 59th Street Bridge, feeling anything but groovy; watching the hazy shade of winter settle over the East River; wondering how this incessant thinking in Paul Simon lyrics came about.  The cold settles in like an unwelcome guest — like the fog that had been sitting on top of the City on Monday; the freezing rain and pellet-y snow that had come by Tuesday; the Arctic Blast of yesterday, and today’s stratocumulus duvet.

There are breaks in the clouds, though.  And through the cover, the light suddenly touches uptown; lights on the River.  It is brilliant and fleeting, but it is there — so golden and beautifully present.

Then it fades, and one stands at the window, craning one’s neck to see where it has gone — Where?!  Tell me.  What place could be worthier to warm and light than right here?!

No response.

Plant the feet.  Breathe.  Feel the arc of the planet; the world that still spins.  And through the cloudbreaks, there is heat and light — though it comes in scant and glorious patches.

At some point, January will end.  But for now, one will take the patches of light, and the bubbles of heat, and the curve of the ground, and the smiles of company, and the chest-tightening air, and each tiny step, and other beautiful things.

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