Dusk Is Falling
Every evening for the last couple of weeks, I have been walking briskly through the neighborhood. It’s one way to get a little extra exercise but it’s also become a way to bid the day goodbye and welcome in the night. At the height of summer, the days shorten imperceptibly but it still seems late when my feet walk the familiar path.
As I step off my stoop, the last rays of sun are leaving ghostly trails through the trees and a deep light still momentarily hovers in the west. Some evenings spectacular ribbons of color swirl over the sky but always they wash out into the softest pinks and blues as dusk arrives.
Along the sidewalks, windows of all shapes stare out from houses, and slowly they light up as I walk along. Some throw light my way, others invite me in as I see a dog wagging its tail, or a TV screen blinking, or vague figures seated at a table. I can tell that the day is winding down. Fewer cars go by and some houses are already darkened. The sound that surrounds me is mostly of birds singing one last song, tree frogs chirping, and those never ending train whistles. Every now and then a human voice or laugh escapes into the air, but the enclosing darkness mutes them and they sound like music telling me everything is right with the world right now.
I turn the corner and I see the first firefly light out. Against the evening blue, it blinks on and off again. And then, I feel it and smell it. The sun is down and the earth shifts. The air takes on its night time coolness. The ground sends out its earthy moisture. We are all ready to settle down and slow down until day comes on again.
As I walk along, I remember the summer days of childhood when we tried to play one last game outside before total darkness arrived. We were playing to beat the night out. And when it finally arrived, exhausted and joyful, we would climb into bed and fall suddenly and deeply into sleep. My nightly walks as an adult take me on that same journey. In my mind, I look over my day and where I gave it my all, and revel in the joy of hard work.
One more block to go before I turn into my little haven. I soak in a final sleepy bird song, I see Venus now shining bright to the West, I hear the gentle rustle of trees letting out their collective breath. As I go up the front stoop stairs, I walk out of the night and into the light of our house. Stella, the golden retriever, is waiting, wagging her tail, and another day is done. Time to sit and read and write. And then sleep the sleep of the innocent. Tomorrow will be a new day, with a new dusk falling, summertime at its best.