I was getting ready one evening to head out to visit friends. Before leaving the house I turned the lights off. I paused in the kitchen to think if I had forgotten anything. Suddenly, I realized a soft-blue light had surrounded me. The sun had gone down but there was still an hour or two of a blue twilight left. This is that mysterious and magical time of the day that most of us miss.
I stood quietly in the kitchen looking out at the maple trees silhouetted in the dimming light. I could hear the birds chirping noisily getting ready for the night. The ponds of water in the yard reflected the evening blue and I could just barely make out the shades of light where the sun had set. This reminded me of my early days back home with my family along the shores of the James Bay Coast.
That blue brought back memories. Springtime was a period of intense feelings. I didn’t enjoy this changing of the season because it meant the end of winter and the highways of snow and ice that had set us free. The change in seasons signalled that summer was coming and it would melt the surrounding swampland to entrap us once again in our isolated and remote northern community. However, I also looked forward to the exciting activity of the spring goose hunt with my brothers, sisters and parents.
Spring was an anxious period for all of us. I could feel the anxiety from the adults who had to plan when and where to spend the goose hunt, forecast how long the melt would take and anticipate when the break-up of the river ice would start. All of these factors were part of a choreographed timetable of bringing home enough geese for food and as safely as possible before the spring-melt.
When we were out on the land, the only moments of calm and peace happened in the blue twilight of the evening in the early spring. I remember cloudless skies at dusk when we watched the changing light of day ebb away in layers of blue. It was a magical time because it was a moment in between light and darkness. As the light faded, we had to stop work because our vision slowly deteriorated. With darkness in the wings we resisted the temptation to light the candles or the Coleman lamp as we needed to save fuel. We could see the soft-blue silhouettes of the scene all around us. Our lives were suspended in the twilight where we were neither active nor passive. We were forced to sit still for an hour or two and enjoy the changing hues of blue, the sound of trickling spring-melt water and the singing birds bedding down for the night.
I can remember an old cabin in the wilderness where we stayed one spring. There was important news we were waiting for through the bush radio and one of us had to stay back to listen for that announcement. I volunteered to hang on while everyone else continued the goose hunt.
I sat alone that afternoon keeping myself busy with chores but when the evening came on, I had no choice but to sit back and relax. I sat at the edge of an old table in front of a rustic unpainted multi-paned window. The noisy static of the radio and the crackling of the wood stove were the only sounds that filled my space. I watched the changing light through the window. It was a quiet, serene time and I had no choice but to think about the world around me, my family and friends and other thoughts that either troubled or excited me. I was in the middle of the evening blue.
In this modern and fast-paced world, we rarely notice the changing moments of the day. An office, a home or even a bedroom more or less has the same light during the day as in the night.
Modern life is a never changing reality of bright, artificial light. Life today mimics the digital world of ones and zeros, where we are either on or off and there is little in between.
These memories of those quiet moments on the land forced me to stop and think about life for a few seconds. It reminded me that no matter how full and anxious life gets, we can still be governed by the rhythms of the natural world. Change happens slowly over time and whenever we move away from this reality, it causes us anxiety and confusion.
Instead of flicking off a switch and making an abrupt change, Mother Nature has her caring way of slowly passing us through one part of the day to the next. She guides us into the night through the evening blue. All we have to do is notice.