Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Light Snow

It feels like my mind is full of potential blog posts right now, but we'll run with the most poetic one. For full effect, this post should be read late at night, in the winter, preferably accompanied by a glass of wine. (Or cranberry juice and Skittles. We are not snobs at Experimental Progress.)

I grew up in a rural area (for future purposes, let's call it Where Else). And every now and then, something happens to remind me of the perspective that background has given me. One such reminder occurs once a year, regularly, like clockwork. In any sizable modern city, the system of electric lights at night is fairly elaborate, and fairly powerful. For any cloudy night after a substantial snowfall, those lights bounce off the snow and the entire city radiates with this unearthly glow. You can grow up in a city and still be aware of this glow, but to really appreciate it, to recognize that it isn't always there, to acknowledge the full "unearthly" part, I think you really need to spend a few winters in a small prairie town with nothing but black skies and white horizons.
As a kid, I found the whole thing pretty unnerving, and whenever the family stayed at my grandparents' house in Somewhere Else, I'd be sure to pull down the blinds in my room to escape it. Admittedly, while I still sleep with my blinds down (I've become one of those that needs absolute dark for nocturnal sleep), I've changed my mind on the city glow, to the point where I not only tolerate it, I kind of embrace it.
And yes, I'm aware that it's not fully a good thing. It's a tremendous expenditure of power, it's a sign of our modern dependency on technology, and on days when the sky isn't so clouded, it's a form of pollution that keeps us from seeing the stars.
But at the same time, it's more than that. It's the light in the darkness, the shout to be heard. It's a sign of the city, it is the city. When the clouds obscure us from the sky, when the snow obscures us from the earth, when the night obscures us from the day---
The city glows. The people sleep.
And wait together for other times, and

Later Days.

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