Sunday, February 22, 2009

Light of Life

"Stay gold, Ponyboy"

The light has come back. Four months waiting for this, and today I opened my eyes to find the sunlight stretching golden through the birch, turning even the darkest spruce bough into a gentle soft shade of green, so bright and abundant that even in the shadows, the birch trunks glow a muted warm white and the spruce trunks deep brown. Bright and clear, vivid the blue sky above, soaked and saturated in that color, touched by red aspen tips beginning to bud with the first faint trickle of sap up skyward. The snow below holds the light, multiplies it, reflects it back upward to light the forest around me.

Winter solstice is past, and now the sunlight is pouring back into the sky, every day flooding back into our parched eyes, our sun-starved souls, lifting our hearts and bringing thoughts of summer ahead. No longer the dim red light of the sun barely filtering through the atmosphere from the horizon, cut with cold blue shadows even at midday, nor the greyness of near-dark twilight under overcast requiring headlights even at noon so that cars whose colors are anonymous under grey glacial silt may see and avoid each other on the dirt, gravel, ice and snow that buried our asphalt. Now the light is golden and glowing inside the surfaces of things!

Nothing gold can stay, perhaps, but the real secret is that if you wait out the darkness, if you keep that hope alive in your soul, after all the darkness, the depression and the pain, the gold comes back. We will never have the first blush of our lives back, nor the pain-free bodies of our youth, the freedom attendant with a lack of responsibility in a world run by parents, any more than we can ever have last summer again, never smell those same flowers, nor pick that four-leaf clover. But that does not mean summer will not come again!

After this long cold time alone, I find an abundance of blessings - the joy of discovering new friends and connections with old ones, the returning function to my lamed leg, the title and registration to my own plane, paid free and clear. Today I go to dismantle all my work and pack up all the parts for my wings, to put them in storage: I must pay my medical bills, and have no money left even for hangar rent for my project. Nothing gold can stay, not that first rush of discovery, or the joy of accomplishment at watching the wing take recognizable shape from scattered parts. Still, I have a light heart, because I know her time will come.

I will not despair, as she is only sleeping: she will wait patiently for me to pay off my bills, and as my leg allows me to work more, I shall come clear of this massive debt, and soar free without fetters or shackles. The lids of totes folded over the carefully photographed, tagged, and labeled parts is no more than the drift of leaves on the forest floor, insulating the bulbs below for the spring to come. The time will come, just as summer is coming, for new friends to grow from words on introductory emails, then voices on the phone, into into faces to see and bodies to hug. The time will come for me to go from curled on the couch half-stoned and still unable to escape the pain and humiliation of being unable to even stand long enough to cook my own food, then affecting a hat and a devil-may-care attitude to go with my cane, to walking back up the mountain passes and climbing the ridges. And someday soon I shall be holding my breath, biting my lip in hope and fear and pure joy as my first student gets into her without me, and takes the lovely golden bird that we built together into the air on her own, for three ritualistic landings without an instructor that signify she has joined the ranks who have grown wings and learned to fly free.

Nothing gold can stay, maybe, but the gold will come again. Have faith, and hope, love, and patience for yourself, and those around you. The world is a beautiful place, and summer is coming!


  1. "Nothing gold can stay."

    Oh, I dunno. I reckon the gold is always inside, when we're willing to find it. Kinda like every day is beautiful, if we let ourselves see the beauty.

    Me? I'm partial to gray days.

  2. I love grey days when I've had a surfeit of sunshine; a low overcast with a drizzle so gentle it's naught more than a heavy mist, filling the world with the scent of the earth, growing things, and wiping all the dust and smoke from forest fires from the air - those are wonderful days indeed.

    When it's been wintry weeks without seeing the sun, though, I long for it like a plant trapped under a board turns pale and twisted. (I realized the other day that you can see my veins through my skin, from below my collarbone down my arm to my fingertips - it has been a very long time since I had a tan on more than my face and hands.) With the accentuated dark up here, it's been four months since I've had as much daylight as I did today - and that is too long for me.

  3. Hope you are better soon.

    That daylight/darkness thing, kinda evens out. My wife and I were in SE Alaska last June. I know it got dark at some point, but I never saw it. Sun was up when I got up. Sun was up when I went to bed. Beautiful state, Alaska.