Driving in twilight eliminates unnecessary distractions. Said to be the most dangerous time on the road for a driver, our eyes naturally readjust to ready for the darkness that follows—too soon.
Shadows develop into imaginary features and creatures. Branches become arms, reflectors become eyes, and our imaginations must sort out the details.
Distant roadside landmarks are no longer available for us to use for comparison, and our world becomes just a little bit smaller. It’s a good time for introspection.
Twilight is longer in the summer than in the winter. During June, it lasts about ninety-one- minutes. It officially begins at sunset and ends when that same sun tucks itself six degrees below the horizon. I’ve no way to gauge that. My hope is to drive fast enough..far enough, to make twilight last just a bit longer than the scientific explanation allows.
Twilight became my focus last week. I can’t say when it moved to the forefront of my mind. I believe that it happened within a ninety-one-minute window of time during a musically choreographed drive to the woods of my beloved Washington County.
When the light of a retreating day is angled— just right— I can feel it. I’ve never discussed this with anyone, but only because I have difficulty explaining it. Does that feeling wash over me because of the uncontestable happiness of surviving another day, or because of my pleasure in seeing the twinkling— flickering— hope from the retreating light as it struggles through the gaps in the surrounding canopy of dark green? I’m not sure.
Fifteen years ago suddenly seemed closer than the sweeping curves of the asphalt trail that slices a few minutes off the trip between Ellsworth and Cherryfield. I had placed the paper coffee cup to my lips when I heard some shuffling from the back seat. I knew it was Ellie readjusting her tight quarters, but the darkness filling the truck allowed it to morph into the sounds made by a nine or ten-year-old boy who made the trip with me hundreds of times. He couldn’t be shoehorned into that space now, but he fit quite perfectly for about twenty years of these twilight jaunts.
I waited for a scratchy-voiced question, but it didn’t come. I strained to hear the voice, but the darkness muted its ability to resonate through the cab of the truck.
I listened for a while. I finally turned with a squinting hope that I’d see him with his head leaning into a crumpled, window-propped, sweatshirt as he sleeps— peacefully— in spite of the washboard roads. Having a passenger who trusts you enough to fall fast asleep is a silent compliment to the security that you have provided to them. Trust from your child is one of the rewards that fill the empty shelves inside the partitioned soul of a parent.
I saw a ball of fur curled tightly against the camp dunnage and my red metal toolbox. She didn’t hear the voice either. I re-focused on the road and attempted to recall some of his questions that I answered multiple times. Tonight, I could have answered all of them succinctly and correctly. I couldn’t have done that fifteen years ago.
Time and distance have a way of making all our answers a perfect explanation. These perfect answers are only made possible as the passage of time mutes all your mistakes, and it even tempers a few responses that I now regret.
Officially, twilight only lasts ninety-one minutes in the middle of June. But if you free your mind to wander, it can last forever.
(Copyright Tim Cotton 2021)
*Last week’s post was a bit of a rehash, and I apologize. I try to keep things—here—on the blog site new and fresh. Sunday nights are my night to write for this page. Some Sundays are difficult to get back into the groove. This week, I wrote this piece.
Anyway, my apologies are merely placed here because I appreciate all the support from you folks, and you deserved to get something fresh and new. It’s just not always a possibility. The support through the BuyMeACoffee app has been tremendous; thank you.
As summer gets underway full-force, I need to get back to my next book (#3). There are chapters spread all through the computer, and it’s time to put some semblence of a story together. And then I must write some more. What I am saying is, for the next few months, I will have some lapses of time between new blog posts, because the book needs to take precedence. Not because all of you are not important, but because I have to be more committed to pounding out words for something that I’ve promised to be done by early winter.
I will still be posting, but there might be weeks at a time that you get some repeats from other places.
My already completed book (#2)—Got Warrants—is doing well in presale status at all the sites where books are sold, and I want to say thanks to all of you who have trusted my writing enough to buy another.
There is only so much time in a day, so I need to do my best to use it wisely. Your reading pleasure is a wise choice, tempering the amount of new writing will allow me to focus more on future paper pages promised to other people I’ve never met in person.
I wish I could have retired a bit earlier than the timeframe that has presented itself. That’s coming, but not fast enough to give me whole days to write feverishly. I have to work in blocks of time when I am not focused on something else, like the job that still pays my bills. You understand this, I know.
Thanks for sticking around at the FB site, and here. You are all appreciated more than the words of a simpleton can relay.
June 29th 2021