I've just put up a sunrise header for the rest of the month. Quite a change from all the Christmas photos, isn't it? For me December is the month when I see Venus in the sky when I first look out in the morning. While I eat breakfast the sun rises--on mornings that aren't cloudy-- far south of where it rises in the summer. It sillhouette's barren tree tops as it comes up with a the redness of determination then spreads an orangey-pink. I purposely chose an apartment that faces east because I am an early riser.
Lights are my favorite thing about December--not the garish multicolored ones and I vehemently dislike those "icicle" fringes on house fronts. I'm comforted because people consciously or unconsciously are still need to make artificial light when the days are short and most of us find ourselves eating dinner when it's dark outside. Here on Cape Cod, I love driving on Rte. 6A which is a winding two-lane road among older houses of every sort from grand homes meant a hundred years ago to hold large families and a few servants, to tiny cottages with only four little rooms. Along the stretch I most often drive from Barnstable through Yarmouth to Dennis the houses use only white lights, often only as electric candles in their windows. I find a tranquility driving there although driving a very curvy road on a dark night with too many car lights coming toward me means nearly all my attention is on the road and not on the grace of the simple decorations.
We are now, of course, in the festival of Chanukah -- the festival of lights. I was surprised quite a few years ago when traveling in India in late October to see that Dawali is a kind of festival of lights although it is also a festival of the angry and dangerous goddess Kali and has much in common with Halloween. After leaving garishly lighted Calcutta (shortly thereafter to reclaim the name Kolkata) we drove up into the Himalayan foothills to Darjeeling and discovered, in the evening, houses outlined with lights just as many American houses do. The year was waning as it passed the solstice and they, too, felt the need of assurance that the light would not vanish. The need for light is a deep part of our nature; much as we feel we have mastered nature, it is good to remember our dependence on the sun.
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