|There is something magical about the experience of walking in the dark after a torrential rain, surrounded by nature, with the sounds of wind and crickets, the smell of earth and grass and wet foliage, the sight of trees covered with droplets of water shining in the streetlight, the taste of wild berries, the startling touch of cold water dripping from the trees. I’m not sure if it’s possible to convey the extraordinary feeling these sensations evoke with the blunt and clumsy tools of human language.
Monday afternoon and evening it rained heavily where we live, a rain we desperately needed. Our usual pre-dusk stroll with Chelsea was deferred until the rain finally let up, well after dark. We live in an exurban community with about thirty large lots, with half of each lot restricted by conservation authority regulations (in contiguous stretches) due to the uniqueness of the ecosystem, and hence untouched and untouchable by development of any kind. As a result we feel we ‘share’ the neighbourhood with the abundant wildlife that we encounter daily.
I’m a poor photographer, I’m afraid, especially at night, and cannot capture the evanescent mist, nor the dazzling rich green colour of the trees in the lamplight, nor the stark contrast between the green moonlit branches and the blackness of those in shade, nor the sublime crystalline beauty of the reflection of water-droplets on leaves. You will have to conjure these up from your own imagination.
In the falling dark, the first thing you notice is the dazzling chlorophyll-enriched green, a colour you only see after a heavy rain. Then, near midnight, by lamplight, the foliage takes on a phosphorescent lime hue with the shimmer and sparkle of raindrops beaded on the leaves, and clinging to the needles of evergreens. In the streetlight and moonlight far above, the conifers become horizontal streaks of contrasting black and emerald, heavily striated by the shadows of the branches above. Black, green and white are the only colours, but there is a vast profusion of rich tones of each. The silhouettes of trees, some thirty feet tall, wave in the gusts of the post-storm wind, and in the branches you can see and hear the occasional rustle of birds. There are puddles in the street and driveways, reflecting the lamplight and the moon’s haze, rippled by the wind. The rain has brought out a family of white-tailed rabbits, scurrying from groundcover to groundcover, and bullfrogs, and in the gully a single young deer. And quietly and gracefully overhead, the occasional tiny bat swoops in search of insects.
There are only three sounds: The wind gusting through the trees, the crickets, and your footsteps. The rest is silence, so deep that the world beyond seems to have dropped from existence.
It’s no wonder that dogs love to walk in, and after, the rain. The wind and the rain have drawn out a profusion of scents. Earth, pinecones, evergreen needles, midsummer florals, acid fruits. The gusts of wind accentuate the sheer variety of smells, dozens of them layered on top of each other, crisp and musty, barely distinguishable by our feeble noses. Chelsea is in sensory heaven.
Among the scents is the tart whisper of wild raspberries growing by the ponds, and though you can’t see them you can almost taste them. And you can almost taste the earth, the bite of bark and cone and leaf and needle that overwhelms the senses.
The wind swirls around you, bracing but not cold, and then when you pass under trees or brush against them you feel the icy touch of newfallen rain.
Now in the dark your imagination springs to life. Beneath one large lamplit tree, its leaves so thick that they provide almost full shelter even in heavy rain, you envision a young couple sitting, crosslegged, facing each other, talking in hushed tones, excited, the light from above diffused by leaves and branches so that the young faces are streaked with shadows. Their eyes seem almost to shine in the dark. They have two books, open, dog-eared, beside them. You can hear the second movement of Ravel’s Concerto in G, the first part, the sad, hesitant piano solo and then the rhapsodic flute coming in, two voices in quiet but animated conversation, like the conversation of the young couple. They have this remarkable music playing on a portable stereo under the tree.
This is where poetry and music come from. In this enthralling darkness, this swirl of sensation and emotion, lies the opening of possibility, the awakening of ideas and dreams and promises that free us from the suffocating grind of our daily existence, the homogeneity of our frightened and horrible culture, that crushes the life out of us, dessicates our individuality, leaves only dull automatons who do what we are told, do what we must, never again daring to dream that we could be anything, that we could and can do anything, we could build a world, a life, a community as different from the suffocating blandness and uniformity of most human existance as life is different from death, and rain from dust.
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My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
Worse, Still (Poem)
A Conversation (Short Story)
Farewell to Albion (Poem)
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