Friday, August 7, 2009

The magic of night

I was up around 6 am, an early start for me, to beat the school kids out to the La Vernia track.

There, in the predawn, I discovered a magical twilight world. On one side, spotlights illuminated workers as a giant mechanical arm sucked concrete from trucks and spread it on a foundation for a new building. On the other side of the track, the La Vernia park had been transformed. Where a few days ago it was empty (in fact, I jogged over there in the grass, a shaky proposition), RVs and smokers and grills had proliferated in preparation for a big cookoff tomorrow.

At least two dozen RVs dotted the landscape, extension cords snaking around to find enough electricity to give them all A/C (otherwise, it would be unbearable in those airless metal shells). It was as though a couple of them had snuck in earlier in the week and made like rabbits, and here was the result. It was not possible that they had all been driven through the park to their grassy spots; in the dim light, it was obvious that they had been birthed there.

Despite the signs of life on either side, it was still quiet and dark. Venus shone below a glorious, almost-full moon. It was nearly cool when the wind breathed. There was just the barest hint that this cruel heat and dry, deadly dry, might come to an end.

Nighttime is a time when the magic of our youth remains alive. The best and worst happen at night. In the light of day, all the phantoms and dreams are too wispy to be real. Only in the dark do they take on substance and inhabit our lives. Night terrors can only happen at night, preferably early in the night, when the hope of salvation is many hours away. Despair is a nighttime emotion. The soul descends to the pit after the sun goes down. Although sunlight is cruel, too, for those suffering from depression, being in the light is still preferable to finding that the darkness outside is mirrored by the darkness within, no relief anywhere.

Nighttime is also a time when the wildest fantasy can almost be caught. Anything is possible again, as it was in childhood. I can fly, or at least fly around the track!

But the morning would not be suspended for long. The sky was lightening more quickly than I could log laps. Venus faded away, and she took the surreal world with her. I could see the day accelerating on the horizon, promising more wicked heat (yesterday was 103 degrees F). It was time to leave before the light became too harsh.

Last night in my dreams, I visited China (Grandma Han was giving us a tour). But visiting La Vernia this morning was just as exotic. I wished I had a camera, but the pictures would not describe the magic I felt.


  1. Thanks for bringing a bit of magic to my mundane morning!!

  2. Two whole comments! And both of them so very sweet. I am swooning.


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