This is the week of the Autumn Equinox - where the day and night are equal, and the sun is passing over the horizon.
If you riding on the east-west streets in the morning or afternoon be aware that you and others (both on bikes and CARS) may be riding directly facing the sun, and in the glare may not see you.
A number of years ago I wrote this essay.
It is that time of blinding transition. Again.
I am driving my car in an easterly direction at about 730 am. The sun has risen over the lake and is looking right at me. If I was not in a workday frame of mind I would park the car, take my phone, or whatever will suffice for a camera, and play with the shadows and light. I am nearly blinded as I look directly east. When I look just lee of the sun I can see. Just a glance inward and I see both too much and nothing at all. I think of the pinhole viewers I made in school for school and the warnings of being permanently blinded. I wonder if there is any such risk this morning if my gaze loiters any longer.
I look at 90 degree angles and can see brightness out of the corner of the eye opposite where I turned. The shadows are sharply focused and looking up I can see rays through the foliage that is just beginning to show it’s hues. The light, the traffic light, is about to change. Looking forward, easterly into the sun, I really cannot tell if the light is red or green. I surmise it’s change by the movement of the vehicles before me. I drive in a leap of faith having not confirmed the signal’s color until I have rolled a bit and can see the green beside me. Again, I look to the East. As I raise my head I reencounter the blindness which makes any movement another leap of faith. The visor down, the lenses tinted, the hand saluting over the lenses, I cautiously make my way to the train station.
I know that tonight will present a similar scene. Last evening the sun, not quite ready to drop over the horizon was right in front of me as, tired from the workday, I made my way home, driving in a westerly direction. I didn’t look above the horizon and wouldn’t be able to see anything if I did. I had to jettison the admonition to aim high that had been given to me in my personal Spring, when I learned to drive an automobile.
I know that in a few weeks I will no longer be blinded on my morning and evening commutes. Each day will be just a little bit shorter than the last and I will be nostalgic for days like today where it is hard to see on my commutes but where the windows are open and the breeze neither makes me sweat nor shiver, where the climate is in its sweet spot, with temperatures matching day lengths in moderation.
I know what Fall portends. The days of riding my bike in shorts and sandals and of driving my car with the window open will end. Gloves, hats and boots will cover the layers that protect me as I commute in darkness. I have a friend who cannot stand the autumn. Winter is very literal to her and she sees falling leaves as a sign of upcoming demise. I see circularity. She sees a point at the end of a line. Having experienced many of these moments, as I near my autumn, I can still count on another Spring, or at least I hope I can. I suspect there will be a time when most of the leaves have fallen off the trees of my life and I will see a line as well.
For now, there is still daylight as I make my way to work. I feel its warmth and see its shadows. I am reassured as I squint into this familiar transition. For now I can relish the splendor that comes with the blindness of the equinox. I can indulge my senses in the colors, the crunches and the coolness without fear of an end.
David, I've known you could write. Thanks for sharing.