November 30, 2009
I arrive at the riverhouse at 5 PM the Monday after Thanksgiving. I am unpacking the car when I am pulled by a golden light to the riverside of the house. Stopping the mundane act of settling in, I pause to be here now.
Rounding the side of the house, I can’t help each time I see it: an audible gasp escapes my lips. Does sound exist without a listener? Does this golden light from the setting sun in autumn glow when I am not here?
As I approach the riverside, I see that blinding mellow light bathing only top most tree limbs, those reaching highest into this autumn sky. Golden light has slid over the deck under the house, like an oozing of liquid, translucent gold.
I drop my busied body down on the yellow sling chair facing west, beside the one facing east. One knows I live alone by my two chairs always facing in opposite directions to watch my soul companion, the sun, rise and set. I stare into golden light which covers me like a soothing ointment.
Fetching the white wine from the car, pouring a generous splash, my waterford glass runneth over.
We are off, as Karl has galloped down from Jim’s on his six inch legs to greet me and My Girl towering above him. The two dogs, my hundred pound Rottweiler/Lab and Jim’s twenty pound Corgi, growl their mutual love noises, running in front of me down the road. The dogs lock teeth, lips, and tongues in their heady greeting.
We divert at the park to the left, the Santa Fe River side, where the last rays of golden light lick mostly treetops. Rust cypress needles remaining before winter’s nudity catch those rays for a Hallmark cliché of autumn color.
I live on the first elbow above the Ichetuknee confluence, as the Santa Fe River bends and twists from Lake Santa Fe to the Suwannee. Mine is the last slice of property to receive the sun’s light at this time of year. Across the river I have the blessing of owning all the woodlands from the Ichetucknee River for two miles up river to my other property there at the yurt. You share that ownership with me, as the lands are ours, managed by Suwannee Water Management, who preserve the tract for deer, otter, turkey, raccoon, beaver, snake, spreading oak and ancient cypress and those birds who roost in them nightly.
I am observing day’s close from a limerock projection above and beside the clear river. I might see what swims and grows under the mirror of golden sunlight at sunset. I don’t look into the water, but upon its surface, mirroring the spectacular golden lighted foliage. We are blessed not once but twice with the reflection of trembling golden leaves on a mosaic of rippling waters. Black roots, supporting trees towering above me, clawed their way through these pockmarked, porous rocks to anchor themselves against current and volatile fluctuations in river depth.
We live in the flood plain, and we are prepared for sudden intrusion of water into dwelling with our stilt houses.
But not today. Today water levels are low and clarity is pure. We feel no threat. Evening sunlight shines golden on my bend of the river, my cypress trees, and my native flowering lawn.
While the sun sinks, those gray clouds which have blanketed the warm land part and dissipate, their bottoms remaining the gray of ashes, as if the sun has burned them, while gray merges into a baby pink, evolving on top to lemon yellow. Layers of a blue pure and…is it green tinted?...that clear blue only the angle of the sun can produce in autumn? What word describes that unique color? Turquoise?
I’m watching the gentle winds push the clouds along the sky, when again I gasp in shock at my fortune to see behind a cloud the almost full white moon emerge. Beneath the moon lies my golden slice of property, and behind me sets the not rosy, but spectacularly golden sun, making black silhouettes of the trees. I blink the golden light which blinds me with its intensity.
I think my wonder is complete as I sip wine from my thin lipped goblet, trekking down the path to the confluence of the Ichetuknee and the Santa Fe Rivers, the dogs knowing the way, preceding me.
We hear the ripples dashing over rocks, but though it be the thousandth time I see it, I remain in awe. Forty years ago I first laid eyes on this beautiful silver river, but how many thousands of years have others seen the same delightful sight uncluttered with human possessions?
Today it is as it was in the beginning. I alone with the creatures who inhabit the woodlands am here. Only this one human treads the shoreline.
Impossible to imagine that only two months ago, at the holiday in September, hundreds of boaters blaring their music, singing their songs, splashing in the crystal waters shared this now empty space with me.
Only recently did I stand knee deep on a solitary summer evening when a baby manatee caressed my legs, swimming back to mama hovering close by in deeper water, to return again and again to me, an also harmless, also warm blooded creature, who frequents the Ichetucknee waters.
The golden light disappears into a wintry gray sky. Gradually pinks and blues fade into deepening silver gray, painting the silver monochrome scene as the silver river ripples winter’s dirge: “Slowly, silently now the moon Walks the night in her silver shoon…And moveless fish in the water gleam, By silver reeds in a silver stream.” Turning my back on the silver river, I look up to see the almost round white moon hovering above black branches, climbing higher, becoming smaller and smaller. Sun and sister moon cooperate to provide light of warm and cold hues, but light indeed enough to allow me to thread my way through darkening woodlands, down the glowing white limerock road, past Frank’s vacant house, past the vacant houses of my other two neighbors, to climb the stairs to my now moonlight-washed silver deck.
I slump down into the chair there, feet up on the little table, clothed in moonlight, the glow of white wine washing away the mundane world beyond. A chorus of crickets, the chatter of mating owls, and the gentle rubbing of swaying limbs and leaves glide me into the solitary night.
This last night before entering December, I crawl under the futon quilts in the screened porch corner, toasty warm, to drift into a moonlight-washed sleep.
Alone and lonely share a root, but as the purr of my kitten contrasts with the purr of an automobile, alone and lonely are not similar soul vibrations.