Monday night I was out for a late walk with Tikka, well after dark, when I happened to look up just as the moonlight was shining through the leaves of a river birch tree. Yes, the light seemed to be shining not just on the tree, but through the leaves, making them glow and dance with translucence. It stopped me in my tracks. I realized that the light came from the moon, and that it was very different than the light from street lamps hitting similar trees just 100 feet away. The light seemed to give the fading leaves, no longer green, but not quite yellow, an almost ethereal glow, as if something normally hidden was being revealed. I didn't have my phone on me, but I am not convinced that technology alone would have captured the magical effect.
This morning Tikka and I were out of our usual routine, even our usual Tuesday routine, when I have an early meeting. We left in a bit of a rush, and by the time we returned home the house was crawling with painters. We went from the three who have been here for over a week now to eight, and Tikka was not convinced she wanted to go back into the house. It seemed another, longer, walk was in order.
It was well past dawn, the light was bright, but the hills in the distance were gray and indistinct due to the smoke from various fires burning in the region. Luckily for us the breeze was carrying that smoke away from my own little hilltop this morning, and we had a lovely walk. It was more of a stroll really, as I was lost in thought and Tikka was more than happy to sniff and snort and shuffle through the decaying leaves on the ground. I was remembering those moonlit leaves and their strange life even while I looked at their same pale daytime faces. I would look at the leaves on the trees, the way they captured the light, but still seemed spent, the definition of autumnal, and think about the stages of leaves, of trees, of growth and life.
Still I was haunted by those moonlight spectres.
The memory of the light shining through the leaves, the almost surreal magic of them, remained as I admired the colors of leaves on the ground and on the trees. As I walked, I thought not only about what we see but also about what we don't see. I thought of our propensity to take things at face value, to rarely look below the surface, to either ignore context, or to flagrantly extrapolate from one context into a completely different one, oblivious to complexities and nuance. Occasionally too quick to judge, at other times far too slow, how often do we miss the light that is right in front of our eyes?