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Spent light ...

by Enoch Langland

Light reflected on waterThe clocks have been advanced. We are past the equinox. We shall be enjoying a gradually lengthening period of daylight between the rising and the setting of the sun, until we reach the summer solstice.

Light changes the narrative of the countryside from day to day. These are understated changes that are often lost to town and city dwellers. Light can transform aspects of the countryside into a works of art. Light accentuates the shapes that centuries of farming have imposed on to the landscape.

Light interacts with water. The sea sparkles. Streams and rivers glint like jewelled necklaces. Ponds and lakes, with mirror-smooth surfaces, reflect the sky above them and what surrounds them. Shafts of light pick out details. Hidden beauties are illuminated. Light adds a depth of perspective to the landscape and our thoughts. Light adds density and solidity. Light is a capricious playmate.

Light influences the way houses and gardens are planned and laid out. Houses are - where there is room to allow it - orientated so that different rooms enjoy the benefit of light at different times of the day. This diurnal theme is taken up by the seasons. There is fascination throughout the year as the aspect of a room changes as light enters it.

The skilful gardener produces a shifting pattern of light, dark, and light and shade. Where space allows, outdoor rooms are created by architects of light. There are dark corners. There are areas where light and shade intermingle to produce an attractive dappling. There are areas where the light is unmediated. For each area there are plants that will thrive. When these effects are combined with colour, the overall effect is certainly more than the sum of the parts. The seasons bring change with the waxing and waning of plantings and the point reached in the Earth’s journey round the Sun. Yet the Sun needs help to make a shadow.

In spring and autumn, morning mists add mystery - menace even - to a familiar landscape. Well-known objects appear different, as if they have changed their imprinted shapes, their imagined characters, their implied habits. We look twice - sometimes even three or more times - at a tree or a building partly obscured by the mist as if it’s something we’re seeing for the first time. It’s as if its quintessence has been altered by what is really no more than a trick of the light. In the stillness of air that necessarily attends mist, our aural sense becomes more acute. Birdsong is more resonant, more resolute. The bleating of lambs is more plaintive, more persistent. The babble of a stream possesses a quality of liquefaction that matches that of the element which forms the body of the stream.

As the Sun rises, it begins to burn through the veil, at first marked by a spot of intensity. This focus of intensity spreads and gradually dissipates, until one type of uniformity is replaced with another.

Enjoy the light in all its manifestations, varied unions and sensuous complementarities. For Time pushes us soon enough into a dark room and closes the door behind us. That room where darkness is the absence of light.

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