Sunset on a Country Road
www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoZq8UXIjzY&feature=youtu.be - Ray Obiedo
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It was two days before the Solstice, and I was fishing the "late shift," from about 5 p.m. until dark.
There was no longer enough light to tie line to hook. The world of sky and trees, bush and water, land and horizon, looks flat and colorless. The visual world has no contrast left. Deep evening – those few, fleeting minutes before sunset - has arrived and the time for fishing, at least for this day, has come to an end.
I look down from the sky - sky-dreaming, I was - to the deep shadow of the water flowing around my legs, trying to allow my eyes to adjust to the quickening darkness. Slowly, gingerly, I begin to wade out of the river - it is time to go.
The last quick bursts of life buzz around me: gnats fly in dense, choking clusters; mosquitoes begin to hum around your head (their humming only being ominous when it stops); whip-poor-wills and northern mockingbirds dart by like little F16’s, nabbing insects on the wing; cicadas begin their tiny buzz-saw, whirr-whine-and-buzz sound effects, and crickets create a percussive orchestra of clicks and chirps. The sound of gravel crunches under my wading boots as I walk the skinny, rocky path back up towards the car.
Down in the river canyon, sequestered under limestone/sandstone bluffs, it was already night. Up here on the hill, it is still evening: the sun is almost set - but not quite yet. It lingers – breathtakingly, captivatingly - 20 degrees above the horizon, tinting the entire landscape with its soft, orange-red-salmon-colored glow.
It is too low in the sky to hurt the eyes; too filtered by humid, summer atmosphere. You can look right at it for, perhaps a fe seconds - at least, I do. It is a huge, fire-sphere of light. It…overwhelms the senses. "How incredibly grateful I am to be alive," I think. "How incredibly, effing alive I feel," I hiss to no one in particular.
There are a few minutes left to sunset from the hill. I can’t change out of my wet fishing clothes; that’ll take time. I simply jump into the car and go. The seats will dry, the floor will dry, I’ll dry; later. Right now, there’s a setting sun to chase. And, yeah, the camera’s on the floor, just under the seat.
To get home, I’d normally drive east - into the comforting embrace of the dark. But the sun - this fire - is setting west, and in this moment...in this now...I must chase it. Home will come.
0 to 60 in seconds. Jam on the brakes; skid onto the grassy shoulder; stop the car; jump out; take some pix (click, click, click); jump back in; go!
0 to 60 in seconds. Brakes, skid, stop, jump, take (click, click, click), jump, go!
“Oh no,” the road is gonna’ veer left, away from the sun, but then, it rises to a slight crest before it does. Yay! Last, best view.
Brakes! Skid! Stop! Jump! The last shots will be from here. That poor guy behind me – the guy who must have wondered "what the fuck I was doing," or "who the fuck taught me how to drive" - passes by. (That's his car, in the image.) If he sees the camera in my hands – and if he’s a photog too - he’ll understand. If not, that finger and those curses will be for me; no doubt about that. Wouldn’t be the first, and I suspect, they won’t be the last.
The sun is setting so quickly I swear I can hear it as it does; like a deep, low rumble, a low, bass tone, a bone-vibrating, droning sound, moaning in from off on the horizon.
Click, click, click. Then, I blinked, and it was gone.
Did all of this really happen? Did I catch it? Did the camera see what I was seeing? I find myself standing on the white line of a two-lane blacktop, mentally adrift, as my thoughts over the last ten minutes have been about, uh – well, hell, I dunno’. I regain normal "non-photographic" consciousness. "Damn," it occurs to me, "I'd better get out of the middle of this effing road." My thoughts return to the here and now.
And so too, do the mosquitoes - suddenly numerous…adamantine...ferocious…relentless. I quickly, and unapologetically, undress to underwear right next to the car; throw all of that wet shit into the back seat, get in, close the windows and hit the air conditioner full blast: freeze the little fuckers back into hibernation before they assault me with an all-out, gang-style, beat-down, dammit.
The next few miles will be “damn-near-butt-naked-drivin’.” So what!? It’s summer, it’s night, it’s dark, I’m alone. And, driving thus - as close to bare-ass in public as it can get - is deliciously sensuous and exquisitely naughty. (My lingam doesn't catch daylight nor a fresh breeze near as often as I would like.:-))))
On the drive home I switch to my old-style, “four-sixty” air conditioner: four windows down while driving at 60 miles per hour. I hear to the sound of tires on road, the engine as it hums, the clicks and drones of crickets and cicadas, the “buff-buff-buff” sound of the wind passing through the car. The sun is gone, but the sky - sliiding from dusk to dark - still holds color, light and magic. "Eyes on the road, Sir," is far more easily said, than done.
“Maybe some music for the drive,” I think, reaching for the radio. Then again, maybe not. Try...quiet.
“Hum, but, a chocolate malt from Ye Olde Ice Cream Shoppe would be nice.”
Yeah, I know: clothes first.
Along the Kankakee River, in Kankakee County, near Deselm, Illinois
Texture Stars - Pareeerica - www.flickr.com/photos/8078381@N03/
Bird Brushes - Distressed Jewell - www.flickr.com/photos/jewellofdistressed/