… on the need for shadows and night


Bill-and-Gail’s Dock in June.  Southport, Maine.

I’m up in Maine doing the little things that I don’t like to do when summer is in full swing (which is when I’m focused on canning and jar-ing the sunshine and warmth in my mind,  in case I need to pull out the memories of warmth and color mid-February).

The little things include washing windows, so I can see summer through them (I think this is important), checking out the gardens so they will make colors for me (this requires – in addition to weeding – a lot of verbal coaxing and, yes, sometimes there is singing (don’t mock me)).  Also there are odd jobs here and there, like ensuring barn floors are not collapsible (or black hole-able) and also checking on the rebuilt porch that – go figure – gave in to the salt air and dared to rot.

There is also washing floors and countertops and other horizontal surfaces (and some coffee-splattered vertical ones), vacuuming up any flies that dared to kick it over the winter, ensuring there is no evidence of squirrel infestation (has happened), or baby bats hanging out on curtains (has happened – they are ridiculously cute up close, I swear), and – my favorite – making sure the view of the water is still there, and no one stole it.

What? Someone has to do it.

So I was out amassing photographic proof of the view thing this morning (to show JoHn, and also – in case the view ever does get stolen – I will need pictures of it for insurance purposes).  When I came in, I realized that the photo above was absolutely beautiful in color, but it just sang to me in black and white, and I wondered why.

Sure, wicked professional photographer that I am, I know that part of choosing black and white over color for a photo is that the color sometimes distracts from the textures in an image and blah-blah-bladdy-blah-techie-stuff-blah.  But it was something else.

Dark… bright….

Shadows…. light…

Today is three weeks to the day that Grampa moved on to his next adventure. And, yes, that gives me pause.  Mostly because I know that, for the rest of my life, I will be thinking – and it will feel like two simultaneous thoughts – that it has only been X amount of time since he left this planet, and that it has also been so long since he left.

Feels like yesterday.

Can’t believe it’s been three weeks.

There, I totally cliche’d (and I’m not even sorry).

So back to the picture.

Initially, a million different sayings popped into my brain as I considered the contrast between light and shadow in it.

You know the ones, the contrast-y ones.

How it’s always darkest before the dawn…

And you can’t appreciate sun without the rain…

Or summer without winter…

Or love without loss…

I have always had a problem with those sayings.

Because why must I experience pain in order to feel pleasure?

The idea sounds very Fifty Shades to me.

Potty brain.

The thought itself is intriguing though – the idea that a contrasting situation/emotion/experience is necessary in order to fully experience and appreciate the good stuff…

And yet, even though I’ve been told this, many times, through my life – it also feels mildly unsettling.

The strangeness-es in my sense of time, when it comes to Grampa’s death, seem to exist side by side, not linearly. Like, I’m not thinking one minute that it seems like just a minute ago, Grampa was here and, then in the next minute, thinking it’s been so long.

I experience both at the same time.

And I don’t care that some expert says we can’t hold two thoughts simultaneously. I can.

Like right now I’m thinking that I want coffee and I want a triple-berry muffin. Equally as much, and at the same time, but I digress…

I can hold thoughts, and experience darkness and light at the same time, without either emotion eclipsing the other.

So, while I appreciate the whole concept of this summer being especially yearned-for after last winter, I don’t know that the coming season will necessarily be sweeter than any other summer because of it.

But what I do know is this…

Sometimes, when we are feeling the darkness and, at the same time, the light shines?

That’s a sweet, sweet place to be.

That is the smile as tears are flowing.

The overwhelming sense of faith that wonderful times are just around the corner, even as you are battling demons (from the inside or out).

The warmth that filled my entire being, seeing Grampa’s Great-Grandchildren, at almost-three and four years old, laughing and giggling and imagining dragons and monsters, at the house just after his funeral.

The bright spots in the midst of the darkness are the sweetest ones, aren’t they?

Maybe that’s why a firefly, during the day, is just a bug…

But it is a little flash of magic when the sun goes down.

Thanks for readin’.


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