Friday, January 20, 2012

In Preparation for Snow

Isn't it wonderful when literature insinuates itself in your everyday life.  A conversation I had on a walk in the woods with a friend brought this to mind.

We take daylight for granted.  But moonlight is another matter.  It is inconstant. The full moon wanes and returns again.  Clouds may obscure it to an extent to which they cannot obscure daylight.  Water is necessary to us, but a waterfall is not.  Where it is to be found it is something extra, a beautiful ornament.  We need daylight and to that extent it is utilitarian, but moonlight we do not need.  When it comes, it serves no necessity.  It transforms.  It falls upon the banks and the grass, separating one long blade from another; turning a drift of brown, frosted leaves for a single heap to innumerable flashing fragments; or glimmering lengthways along wet twigs as though light itself were ductile.  Its long beams fading as the recede into the powdery, misty distance of beech woods at night.  In moonlight, two acres of coarse bent grass, undulant and ankle deep, tumbled and rough as a horse’s mane, appear like a bay of waves, all shadowy troughs and hollows.  The growth is so thick and matted that even the wind does not move it, but it is the moonlight that seems to confer stillness upon it.  We do not take moonlight for granted.  It is like snow, or like the dew on a July morning.  It does not reveal but changes what it covers.  And its low intensity – so much lower than that of daylight- makes us conscious that it is something added to the down, to give it, for only a little time, a singular and marvelous quality that we should admire while we can, for soon it will be gone again.

--Richard Adams, Watership Down

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