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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Light is a wave

At quarter to four, it still looks pretty much like noon. The sky is a little pink, to be sure, and there's a slight cast to the light, but it isn't all that different yet. The waves, long rollers now after two days of storm, break as white as ever and the house on Ginn Point still contrasts strongly with the firs and the water, although now lit by the settting sun. At 4:00 much has changed. I can't see the pink lollipop wind turbines on Vinalhaven, and I have to put on an electric light to see the keyboard. The sky has lost its blush and is considerably darker. By 4:15 it is practically dark. The waves breaking on Little Island are ghostly. I see little out of the windows and reluctantly turn on the Christmas tree lights.

I can't help but remember those long evenings of summer. They would stretch out for several hours, it seemed, allowing time for a drink on the deck, a leisurely dinner, then sitting out some more to watch the osprey fish. The advance of the dark in summer is crepuscular, not this sudden curtain of winter.

I watched the waves throughout tonight's half-hour of evening. On Sunday and Monday they were as violent as the wind, chaotic, multiplied, crashing several ways at once on top of each other, but today the wind is calm and the surface of the ocean appears calm as well, just gathering itself every ten or fifteen seconds into a four-foot wall of water. When the waves break on the shore, the sound is like a roaring wind even though there is none. Yet the waves keep coming, like light from a distant planet. Their energy is hidden under the surface, again like light.

Neither the strong mysterious waves nor the fading mysterious light tells me anything (they just are) but I read them anyway. Winter doesn't temporize, draw things out. It is not soft or indolent. It's on/off, light/dark, calm/furious and not much in between. It's a time for understanding that we understand so little. Light, they say, is composed of both waves and particles. That seems ultimately meaningless. A wave, by that token, is both there and not there, for it breaks into nothingness, or it is one wave endlessly repeated, breaking memories on a cold shore.

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