golden hour

It’s that hour in the day when the sun is beginning its descent, but is still incredibly bright, and everything just looks spectacular. The light is lower so it filters through the leaves differently, it hits the ground and the window panes at a different angle. Everything, from the winged seeds falling from the maples to the dust on the kitchen floor, is different. It’s just a really beautiful time of day. And no matter where I am in the world, if I catch a golden hour outside, it always reminds me of that Adirondack summer light.

Even though the world is literally aglow at golden hour, it feels stingy to lean on descriptors like illuminating or sparkly, although it certainly is, but rather golden hour is a moment in time that moves slower than the rest of the day. It’s a marveling sort of hour that invites us to slow down, too. This shift in hue and vibrancy is, more accurately, a commentary; golden hour is the day remarking on itself. A job well done, it says, and now it’s time to take it all in.

I particularly love a run at golden hour. If I’m running at that time, it means I’ve really encouraged myself to go and it’s likely after working inside all day, probably hunched over a computer for the better part of it. A run at golden hour often feels like a liberation. My body is tired, but with movement I’m coming undone in a way, breaking open something remarkable within myself. That’s kind of what the day is doing at golden hour, and I never want it to end because there is something moving about it. It doesn’t happen every day, even though the earth goes through the same rotation.

I have this memory of being in my grandmother’s house as a little girl. I referred to her then as the red house grandma because she lived in a red shingled house. There were two bedrooms in her home, one was hers and the other was a guest room with a twin bed. That’s where I slept if I stayed the night. This room had a dresser with a mirror, a closet, and a small window with a white, lace curtain. 

In my memory, I’m sitting on the floor with her jewelry box, which was a sort of pale yellow color, and it opened into tiers of drawers with sections, each containing a piece, or pieces, of jewelry. I looked through her keepsakes as the afternoon light poured through that small window. It was warm, not just in temperature, but the rays were enveloping. That golden hour light transformed where I was. It was dazzling, just like the pieces of jewelry, and enchanting and dreamy, like how a child feels about her play when she’s safe and discovering the world on her own terms. It was a light only possible in make-believe worlds, and yet, there it was, as earthly as steam rising from dinner cooking on my grandmother’s stove.

I remember her walking in the room. I was still enamored with the jewelry box so my back was facing the door. She entered like that sparkly, golden light – suddenly and softly, washing over anything still thirsty for brightness. Even now, as I write down this memory, I can feel her walk in that room. I can see the shadows on the walls, that fuzzy glow fill the air around me, feel the sun drape over my small frame, and I can sense her behind me. Her footsteps were whispers, but not softer than her feathery curls. A breeze ruffled the curtain.   

I wish I could go back to that particular golden hour. It’s long gone, and yet I never want it to end. 

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