You know the time of day. The sun has disappeared over the horizon, there is still a faint, orange glow off to the west, and the rest of the sky deepens through purple to gray-blue to black. Not yet dark enough for the stars to shine through, but a crescent moon hangs high in the sky, almost directly overhead.
Blue Light Time. On a quiet Friday night, the week falling away like the wake of a boat … what was once a tempest is now calming, spreading out, fading away. Big problems, like big waves, become smaller as their energy is absorbed by time and distance.
When I was a kid, this was the time of day to come back inside. Back when we had the run of the neighborhood after dinner. “Be back when the bats fly”, my mom would say, and we knew exactly when that was. Our big, old house in a small Midwestern town was also home to some little brown bats … now an endangered species in Indiana. One would occasionally get into the house, and we’d trap it under a towel or pillowcase or bedsheet and let it free outside. But the bats fly at blue light time, and often at this time of the day I’ll see a bat darting through the darkening sky, and can hear my mother calling us to come home.
Blue Light Time. This time of year the temperature drops into the 60’s in Northeast Florida, Perfect for a mild cigar and a moderately good scotch on the deck out back. I’m no Hemmingway, but I can almost imagine Papa sitting on a Veranda in Havana, with a scotch and a cigar and a laptop with a wireless internet connection painstakingly selecting just the right word for his latest story. A wonderful time to write if you have the time, which tonight I do. It’s almost … almost cool enough to want to light the logs in the copper fire bowl on the patio, but not quite.
In the dead of summer, this is the time of day that is almost tolerable. The wind goes slack like the tide shifting between onshore and offshore breeze. You can sit outside, if you have protection from the insects, and enjoy the quiet, interrupted by the occasional “thump, thump, thump” of a passing car who’s occupants don’t care if you share their taste in “music”. But for the most part, the traffic on Florida Boulevard becomes little more than white noise, and in the lulls, the crickets and frogs begin their nightly song.
Blue Light Time. The shadows deepen and distinction fades to mystery. Objects become forms and then simply shapes. It doesn’t seem like there’s less traffic on the road behind the house, and yet sounds carry across the neighborhood. A dog somewhere upset about something lets the neighbors know. Sometimes it seems like the sounds come from everywhere, and nowhere in particular. Now, the rumble of a passing jet, drifting down from 30,000 feet … it’s passengers bound for perhaps a hundred different destinations but at the moment, all randomly together hurtling through the darkening sky.
In the time it has taken me to write these few short paragraphs, the sky has darkened completely to black, the stars have blinked on, as have the tiny, solar-powered LEDs I’ve strung in the beams of the pergola on the deck. The streetlights have come on, and the song if the night has begun. The cars still rush along Florida Boulevard, but the officer who so often sit on the street to catch those grossly exceeding the 30 miles per hour speed limit is likely gearing up for a more dangerous night in Town Center where spring breakers are perhaps enjoying and adult beverage.
And so it goes, at Blue Light Time, on a barrier island, at the continents edge.