Mid-November it gets dark early. I drove home tonight in the near-dark while the sun set in its rose-colored glory. The crescent moon hung lonely in the sky. Silhouettes of trees, bare branches reaching for the cobalt sky, lined up on the horizon.
Years ago I worked as an outdoor educator. We did group programming into November. On those late fall days we would be putting away equipment in the shed, sometimes struggling to see. The shed had no power but it did have a kerosene lantern that helped, if we cared to use it. We hung ropes and stored belay devices in the shadows, walking out into the twilight after a day outside, feeling the damp and the dark.
These days I spend much less time outside. That is too bad. I appreciated the world more then. I felt I was in the world more. Now I spend more time in windowless spaces and in cars than outside. The world ticks past without me in it. I step outside after a day with too much time at a desk or at a computer screen. I do not notice the leaves falling quietly onto hemlock needles as much as I did.
But I do see the world. I notice what I can. The sky was so beautiful this afternoon I had to stop my car, get out and look up at the moon. I wanted to see it without the window as filter. I wanted, if just for a moment, to be in the world. So I parked on the side of the road, near the top of a hill, and I looked west, the light fading, the darkness pulling the stars from their berths, and I simply stood there.