Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Magic Hours In My Neck of the Woods by Judy Vars

The Midnight Sun

What is your favorite time of the day?

Do you love sunrise surprises? Do you enjoy the noon hours white light?

Or the early evening hours with glorious sunsets?

June 21st holds the honor of being the longest day of the year. In my neck of the woods (Wasilla, Alaska), that day provides us with twenty hours of daylight. This extravagant length of hours seems to slow time and confuses our understanding of morning, noon, and night.

My tradition is to stay up all night on the Summer Solstice. I’ve heard it said Alaska is an insomniac’s paradise. Suffering from a bit of insomnia myself, I can attest to the difficulty of trying to put oneself to bed when the sun still shines. On the solstice, I don’t even try.
My personal favorite time of the day this time of the year has always been the window of magic hours from 10:30 p.m. to midnight.

The sun goes down slowly, during this period displaying a long and glorious sunset. After sunset the light stays in a suspended state somewhere between day and night.  Old Sol hovers just behind the horizon, casting a filtered light of lavender as a Prussian blue sky and crimson shadows imbue the scene with an otherworldly glow. I often sit quietly in my secret garden next to my lake carefully observing the various elements in my surroundings. As an artist I mentally translate the colors I see into pigments.  Inspired to attempt to capture the essence of what I am experiencing. At these moments I think of something Vincent Van Gough wrote to his brother, Theo: "One of the most beautiful things by the painters of this century has been the painting of darkness that is still color.”  I feel like one of those artists as I sit and contemplate how to capture the essence of the midnight sun onto canvas – how to paint the darkness that still has color.
For now, I am content to enjoy the midnight sun, as soon enough it will be night most of the day.  But the long winter’s night is magical, as well.  Oh the sights you can see:  the Milky Way, the aurora, nighttime so clear and clean you can see planets and galaxies with the naked eye! Sunrises, sunsets and stars “oh my.”  At the Winter Solstice (shortest day of the year) it is my tradition to stay in my new flannel pajamas all day long no matter what. Tradition is a cozy thing.

My passion is art, but whatever your passion is, Alaska’s brings her best to each one, graciously providing heavenly peeks into the world around us that cannot be found anywhere else.