November 01, 2006
During long summer days at my parents' camp, night time comes slowly. After supper, we have all kinds of time to sit at the picnic table and linger over coffee or tea, devouring bags of cookies. My father and I might go off for an evening sail, or I might ask my mother to go canoeing. Someone will get up a game of bocce or frisbee golf. Sometimes I'll go for a long walk with my husband, giving us some quiet time together away from the kids. More restless members of the family might take a ride into town, usually with the aim of replenishing the cookie supply and filling up our water containers at the spring. Always someone claims a spot in the hammock, a peaceful place to rest a sunburned body.
Even as we gather around the firepit, everyone jockeying to get a good spot, sunlight still drops peacefully down through the oak branches. My sisters bring books or magazines with them as they pull their chairs closer to the circle, and the guitar players will be looking at sheet music, talking about songs. Some of the kids will take one last swim off the dock.
Eventually, of course, the sun does descend to the horizon, turning the sky and the bay into a brilliant red. Our camp faces west over the river, and the sunsets are gorgeous. But even after the brilliant colors fade, nothing is dark quite yet. The sky will be a deepening blue color, with visible clouds and light reflecting off still water. Often I'll walk away from the raucous crowd at the fire to go stand on the dock and admire the way the familiar scene gradually turns into dark silhouettes.
By the time darkness finally does envelope the landscape, with the flames of the firepit lighting the faces of family members as they joke or sing or play games, I am comfortably tired. Worn out from swimming and sailing and hiking, filled with a whole day of summer sun, I am ready for the darkness, ready to disappear into my small tent with my husband.
It's hard not to think of this in early November, when the days have gotten so suddenly short. I come home, check my email, think about supper, build a fire in the fireplace, read with With-a-Why for a little while – and suddenly, I look up to notice that it has happened again; all the windows are dark, our house plunged without warning into night.
Posted by jo(e)