It is an American custom that as the year winds out, we pause to be grateful – for what we have, for what we have missed or what’s missed us, for the people we love, the places we treasure, the communities that we call home. It seems to me that November, and autumn, are a good place for this. It’s the dusk of another year, the sun’s arc heading south, the moon rising, light fading on shorter days.
Dusk is a favorite part of the day, when time seems to slow its pace and the Earth softens. Colors take on a lower hue, the landscape loses its rough edges, and the fading light seems to help things fold in on themselves – the buildings, the trees and shrubs, flowers – giving a snugness to our surroundings, like pulling the blankets up under your chin. Headlights snap on, the streets glisten among the pale cones under street lamps.
The wind usually subsides, a calm comes over the neighborhoods, and on softer evenings the air carries the shouts of children, the bark of dogs. Nature’s dimmer turns, and houses lose their roof lines against the sky; light burns from their windows, setting the stage inside where people move about or sit for supper, or putter in kitchens. Sidewalks that define a front yard or a back lawn follow the pitch of terrain out along the curbs and cut along the streets and alleys, straight lines, mostly, down the way, along a road and into a bend, toward the day’s fading exit, into that darkness we call nighttime, under a bright sky.
– JOHN MARSHALL