Posted by: Peadar Ban | January 12, 2010


This is the time of year when evening begins at about 8:30 am.  I exaggerate, of course.  I’ll continue to do so.  There is, so popular wisdom has it, no such thing as twilight during Winter, unless one lives closer to the Arctic Circle than we do and counts the months between October and May as one long twilight. And only polar bears, walruses and Finns are capable of that; perhaps a reason for their phlegmatic and dour natures.  Even caribou flee.  This time of year, it often seems that the sun sets on the day with all the subtlety, gracefulness and mercy of a guillotine blade.

Not one day last week, however.  There I was peeling something or other in the kitchen when I glanced down into the school yard/parking lot at about three, the time when it’s full of parents and flooded with a tide of kids pouring up and over the stairs into the cars and SUVs.  Old Sol, weak and rheumatic two thirds of the way down the sky, slipped behind a thin gray ribbon of cloud while the place emptied like, well, like a parking lot full of school kids when school’s out. As the last ones left there was a bit of a chromatic explosion behind the cloud, and sort of through it, fractured and spread out like light through a fold in sheer curtains; some orange, some crimson and a sort of dusty bluish gray.  If I wasn’t a man I’d be able to give all of these colors fancy names like teal, or umber (how about umbre, or even embre which was what my stoopid fingers first typed.)  As you know, men only recognize three colors: White, Black and Other.  Lucky for me wasn’t it that I was there and got to see what happened above us all?  I think I may have been the only one to notice.

For the next hour or so I paid as much attention as I could to the sun slowly playing peek-a-boo with the passing clouds while a cold wind rattled the bare branches.  The after school kids didn’t feel a thing, though, when they came out at around four for a run.  They scattered, bounced and ran around like water drops on a hot skillet.  Their only interest was in running, I thought.  And why not, when all they seem to be at that age is energy contained, and that in a not too orderly or neat fashion.  They ought to be the objects of a study about fusion powered engines.  I caught sight of their two chaperones doing a good imitation of Lot’s wife near the edge of the bare and wind scoured parking lot.  Only it was not salt, but swiftly falling temperatures that had them immobilized.

Then they went inside after about ten minutes, and the place was empty.  Soon only a fan of golden light showed above the trees in the cemetery at the end of Hill Avenue.  The sun’s last rays flared out, shooting over a few scattered clouds skipping across the darkening sky and it was gone

I turned away and began to set the table.  It was dark, and Father would be hungry.

What a grace…


  1. Dear Peter, thank you so much for your blog. I really enjoy reading it and consider it a beautiful grace. Twilight beams! 🙂

    • Thank you, too, Joan. As you well know, it is only an exercise in availing oneself of the grace that is always there.

  2. What a grace for me to come home and find these pearls in my Inbox. Makes email almost seem worth it.

    • Thank you, Michael. It’s really rather easy. The pearls simply appear when one stops to look.

  3. Lovely.

    • Thank you, Kevin.


%d bloggers like this: