Saturday, June 7, 2014

Liquid Light

Occasionally, a glance outside leaves me speechless. It's not that I can't find the words to describe what I'm seeing, but I'm at a complete loss if I try to give voice to the feelings it evokes in me. It happened again the other night, when I happened to look out the window on my way to bed and saw the half moon.

Now that's normally a wonderful event in its own right, often made even more wonderful on a cloudy night when the moon disappears and reappears again every few moments. But on this night, not only did its glow mesmerize from the heavens, but from the surface of the pond as well, and even the word "magical" doesn't come close to the effect produced when the pale emanations from only a partially exposed moon casts its glow across rippling water.

I stood at the open window for quite some time, holding my breath as the wispy clouds moved across its asteroid-ravaged face and then, within moments, set it free again. Each time it did, its position had shifted just a little, refashioning the squiggles of light, shortening some, lengthening others, until more clouds drifted past. And if the scene weren't enough of a miracle, cool night air drifted in through the open window and an owl hooted from somewhere deep in the woods.

Seeing the moon casting its light across the pond that night was like watching a single candle flickering in an otherwise shadowy room. Flooding a room with bright light produces the same effect as does full sunlight beating upon the water. On a bright sun-filled day, the pond becomes a large blue eye full of watery daylight, dazzling the viewer, while at night, a single moonbeam stretches across its shimmering expanse. It's exactly the same pond in exactly the same place, but the sun and moon have their own separate and unique effects upon it, and each event produces startlingly different emotions in whoever is fortunate enough to behold them.

A body of water contributes to such an event in different ways depending upon its temperament at the moment. On completely still water, the effect is one of a wide beam of static light, while on a breeze-riffled surface, the effect is one of diffusion, as hundreds of wriggling lines made of liquid light shimmer in perfect harmony across the pond, not unlike tiny puddles of liquid mercury squirming around on a moving surface.

Several nights later, the pond showed me yet another of the many facets of its personality. A storm made its way in slowly from the west, and the sky turned a deep smoky and ominous gray along the southwestern treeline. The water picked up this theme by turning a deep slate gray, and as the westerly wind gusts increased, its surface became a small sea of white caps rushing toward the southeastern shoreline. The more the wind stirred, the more turbulent the water became, until the rain came and vied with the waves for supremacy. I doubt there was a victor, as it was more of a frenzied dance than a battle, but it nonetheless made for a spectacular performance, one more to add to my growing collection.

I never know what to expect when I look out over the pond or what aspect of its temperament will be made visible at any given moment. The one thing I can be sure of is that it will not disappoint, as moodiness in this context is never a problem.


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