Friday, March 11, 2011


The sun disappears behind the mountain at four o'clock in the winter, and the Deepwell neighborhood begins its lazy descent into twilight. I water the ficus hedges and the rosebeds, and once the greenery is sated I start out on my walk.

The neighborhood is a study in fifties geometry- long low ranch homes and tall majestic Palm Trees. The homes are a mixture of sweet old lady originals and glamorous restorations. The picture windows are either hidden behind yellowing draperies or else wide open with Bertoia chairs and Eames lounges on proud display.

It is twilight and the light of the day is fading, although darkness has not completely taken over. The jet trails stand out in the rapidly fading skies, the crescent moon almost directly overhead. A neighbor walks his dog, hurrying to get home before dark. A little blond girl on a bicycle calls out to her mother not to go so fast. Yard lights and porch lights awaken. Dramatic yard lighting highlights certain Palm Trees like movie stars at a premiere. The only sound is the crickets. It is peaceful and exquisitely ordinary.

I wonder to myself, was it like this last night in Japan? Did the people clear the dishes and fold the laundry with no inkling of what was about to happen? Was it this exquisitely ordinary, and can it all really change that quickly? Are we that fragile?

The skies have gone dark, with only the moon to guide me as I walk home under the silhouettes of the Palm Trees.


lynette said...

Jeff, that's a beautiful piece of writing. Your words are evocative and took me right there with you. So much of life seems ordinary, and I think we miss it in the constant frenzy of the day. If it was the last night of normalcy we had, how would it feel to have missed it? Lovely, lovely. I've missed your voice.

tankmontreal said...

Yes, we are that fragile. We're all living on the edge and we appreciate it to varying degrees. It's probably always been that way but (so far) it's been so easy to mask it with the indulgences of modern life.
We understand our fragility more profoundly after events like 9/11 and the Japanese earthquake. We realize that life as we know it is essentially hopeless - AND we carry on anyway, trying to make a difference.
I am essentially hopeful.

Birdie said...

So poignant and vivid, visually and emotionally. I know the muse is fickle, but I do love your personal musing.

You strike through the peaceful moment as must have the earthquake and tsunami. We yearn for the moments of normalcy when it's ripped away. Yet we see in the Japanese people a great strength and sense of community: not one report of looting or fighting. I lift them in prayer.