There is a golden glow that brings a sweetness to everything at dusk. I think that most days I don’t take time to notice this. But, I found I had plenty of time to notice this when I found myself day hiking 5 miles to a trail out at dusk in the Desolation Wilderness to end a work day.
And of all the talk of “rose-colored glasses,” this is something far more beneficial. All visible in your physical surroundings literally became golden-colored: every leaf is outlined in a champagne-hued halo, flies become fairies as they pass in flight through rays of sunlight, and the shadows of pine trees grow long, changing shape as the sun descends. Hitting this day’s end in late August, there is a spicy aroma of decaying vegetation. It is a pleasant spiciness, a anticipatory whisper of autumn’s approach, to be followed by winter’s coming. There is something beautiful in the mixture of living with the slowly dying and dead, it is a comforting reminder the endings are also beginnings.
And it puts a figurative “golden glow” on just about everything else: the sharp pinch on your neck where your gear-ladened pack pulls, your meadow-sodden sock, your sun-baked lips. None of that seems a bother any more, because you are captivated by the forest scene at this last hour of day’s light. Somehow those discomforts seem to enhance the pleasantness of the surroundings.
The only sound you are aware of is that of your feet crunching along on pine cones, granite gravel, and dried grass. Listening to this and basking in the golden light, I could be lulled into a sweet sleep in a moment, should I give in. I’d like to give in. I’d like to just stay and sleep in this moment for several lifetimes.
It is then I look down and realize I’ve been watching my feet for a good portion of the hike out. There is some tricky footing on trails such as these, and it is hard to be certain where it is best to walk. This reminds me mostly of how very uncertain I am of where it is best for me to “walk” in my life right now.
It is a challenge for most of us to find sure footing on whatever trail we find we’re treading for our current season. We stare at our feet trying to be careful as we go, and then look up suddenly and find we are lost in the woods. Sometimes this is “delightfully lost” but sometimes this is just disorientation. How did we get here? How do we get out? And what “out” is it that we even want to get to?
Sometimes I feel I’ve gone backwards on the trail, back to some point I once was at and didn’t mean to return to. Other times I feel I’ve gone off into new terrain, and I am excited that I have no idea where my feet will lead me on the next bend, over the next ridge. Occasionally I find I’m fearful that I’m almost walking in the blind, have no idea what to prepare for or to anticipate. Sometimes I find I’ve been standing still, wishing I would never have to come out of the woods at all.
But there is something in that golden glow in the woods at twilight. It reminds me of the sweetness of all this, how I feel my honest self in moments such as these, in places such as this. How I’ve been ruined forever in the best possible way by this opportunity to have a job that has me finishing out the day on a trail hiking as the sun is extinguishing itself. I have no answers right now, just many questions, and the comfort of walking in the eventide gold.