Saturday, September 29, 2007

Northwest Light

The sunlight in Washington State is like a rare jewel when it arrives, sparkling clean and pure on the evergreen trees, shimmering a luminescent blue with streaks of gold on the Dungeness spit as the sun slowly falls behind the horizon.

A spit is a long stretch of skinny land that juts out into the ocean water. It doesn't have a very romantic sound--and when you look at it on a map knowing its name it does kind of look like a long thread of spit that some giant standing on the mainland let fly.

But actually standing on the sand of the spit you are in a landscape of mist that huddles up next to you,then moves back to reveal in the near distance a boat, a tree, a heron, before sliding on again to reshape itself and the landscape.

This is not San Francisco coastside fog, with its harsh and often incessant wind. This is something far more delicate--it paints the landscape around you with a misty brush, shifting and changing, like a Japanese watercolor.

Evergreens shrouded in wise silence, punctuated by persistently conversational ravens. Long and cool narrow beaches scattered with white clam shells resembling the small hard wings of angels.

The angels may not always be visible, but they have left us, in this physical world, with tokens, reminders, evidence of their presence.

I walk the beach collecting these hard white wings in my hands,following the fluctuating presence of light. At the end of my walk, I let them fall again, emptying my hands for whatever is next.

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