Friday, November 11, 2011
RAVE OF THE WEEK: GOLDEN DAY AND SILVER NIGHT
Sometimes I feel like I spend most of the time on this blog complaining about one thing or another, so should try to write a really positive post once a week. This week it’s all about the gorgeous weather we’ve been having and the extraordinary beauty of the area where I live and work.
Yesterday was one of those rare fall days when it’s relatively warm and the sky is deep blue and completely clear. Walking across campus just before the sun set, I was overwhelmed by the bright golden light that came, not from above, but horizontally as the sun neared the horizon. This bright horizontal sunlight seems to be a specialty of the Pacific Northwest, where the air is still relatively smog-free and the sun can keep shining fully until the very last minute. Most of the trees are in full color, just starting to drop some of their leaves. I reveled in the golden sun illuminating screens of red, orange and gold leaves, the shadows projected infinitely to the side instead of falling on the ground, the joy of swishing my feet through piles of dry, multicolored leaves, stepping on the occasional fallen snowberry and listening to it make that crisp “Knallerbsen” pop, and the indescribable woody, earthy, moldy, aromatic scent of leaves that are just on the verge of decomposing. I don’t know of any perfume that fully captures that fallen-leaf scent, but Ineke’s Evening Edged in Gold comes close to capturing at least some facet of the euphoric-melancholy visual atmosphere of a sun-gilded transition from afternoon to evening like the one I’m describing.
Last night the moon was full, or near full. Walking outside with the full moon overhead, the sky was colored that 3-dimensional deep blue-black that’s most often seen on a bright night in the desert. The moonlight was strong enough to bring up some subtle color in the silvery glaze of light that coated everything it touched, and cast sharp, black shadows, this time from above.
The strength of the moonlight was amazing and took me back to times in my childhood when I would wake up in the middle of the night with the moonlight shining into my room, get up, go downstairs, and wander around outside, feeling a strange sense of nostalgia and longing, seeing everything in a new, unaccustomed, and sometimes frightening way. Night always accentuates scents, so the smell of fallen leaves was particularly strong, wet, and earthy under the moon’s influence. The moonlight made me think about making a perfume called “Shadows of the Moon”. As if I needed more perfume ideas.
Sunset paintings by Albert Bierstadt (18??), and Konstantin Bogaevsky (1896); Moonlight paintings by Ilya Repin (1896) and Albert Ryder (1890)