Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Light" Blogging

A little break from politics...

I took The Lad to the park down the street from our house today. It was gorgeous outside today, but there was a bit of coolness in the breeze, even when the sun was high overhead. It definitely had that late summer/early fall feel to it, when the sun feels like it's farther away than you've been used to all summer, and it feels like twilight even when the sun is high overhead. I wonder if the angle of the suns rays striking the earth affects our perception of its light in the same way it affects the amount of warmth we receive from it.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the qualities of sunlight this summer, and how things like time of year and time of day and ones surroundings affect sunlight, and how that sunlight in turn affects how we perceive our surroundings. And like today, most of that reflection has occurred while taking The Lad to the park -- though unlike today, it has mostly been at Skinner Butte Park in Eugene. Usually, I've taken him there near the end of the day while waiting to pick TFR up after work. Even with the late sunset of summer, it's been late enough in the day most times that the sun, while not on the horizon, was low enough to be below the park's treeline.

But Skinner Butte Park, as its name implies, is located at a butte. Not just on top of the butte, but also extending next to it, between Skinner Butte and the Willamette river. The playground to which I take The Lad is located on the lower land between the river and the butte. So while it was in shadows by the time we would leave, the butte itself was high enough that it was still bathed in light. And what strick me was the way the light striking the butte while we were in shadow made the features of the trees on the butte stand out -- it was as if I could see each branch, each leaf and needle in greater detail and clarity. The light often had a warm, golden quality to it that enhanced the effect. It was glorious -- relaxing, warm, and distinctly summerish.

After I'd enjoyed the sensation for a while, I found myself pondering what the cause of this effect was -- was it the fact that my eyes, accustomed to the shadow, was more sensitive to the light coming off the butte? Was it psychological, in that the dimness of the lower altitude enabled the brain to ignore it, and focus on the butte? Or was it the angle of the sun's rays, coming in under the leaves and highlighting them, instead of coming down more directly from above and washing everything into one mass of green? Or was it, as I suspect, some combination of all these causes?

I'll have to ponder this further -- next time I'm at the park.

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