Thursday, December 16, 2004

Light and shadow 

"We can't sense space without light, and we can't understand light without shadow and shade, which are different from each other. Shadow is the ghost of an object; shade, the absence of light, offers us refuge from the overzealous sun."
-- Donlyn Lyndon and Charles W. Moore, Chambers for a Memory Palace
In the gloom of many winter days, Seattle looks flat, dull, lifeless. It looks the way that depression feels. What I miss is not so much blue sky, or even the blazing disc of the (rarely overzealous) sun. Mind you, I am as phototropic as the next Seattle resident, tilting my head without conscious thought toward any hint of light or heat from the sky, but my eyes long for something else entirely. What I miss on gray Seattle days are shadows. I miss the contrasts created by the play of light on objects.

This morning, as I headed downstairs to feed the cats, I caught a glimpse out our stairwell window of these shadows cast by roof overhang and brackets on weathered shingles. This is our nextdoor neighbor's house. I see this roofline several times each day. But on this morning, just days away from the longest night of the year, the strong, crisp edges between bright and dark almost took my breath away.