Dillant Hopkins Airport, Swanzey, NH

I’ve been back home since last Thursday night, during which time I’ve taken very few photos. I’m finding it takes me a while to re-enter my usual world after being away for even a few days. It’s as if the miracle of modern travel–a.m. in Ohio, p.m. in New Hampshire–is something I still haven’t adapted to. After spending a week in Findlay then driving a day to return home to Keene, everything here still seems a bit blurry. Perhaps you could call it car-lag, the disorientation of returning to a known landscape after having immersed oneself in a different one.

Last night after having already walked the dog in the morning, we took a second stroll at the municipal airport in nearby Swanzey. The sun was starting to set, so the light was slanted…and a low mottled ceiling of clouds threatened heavy weather. Instead of a thunderstorm, though, all we got was a wondrous show of cloud and pewter light: that gray, metallic sheen that transforms the landscape into a museum diorama, layer upon layer of seemingly illusory depth. I’ve blogged this odd sort of late afternoon light before, but it’s something I still haven’t adequately captured: the odd gray glint that transforms the landscape when the setting sun gleams through the underside of a thick bank of clouds, making the ground lighter than the sky.

I’ve learned to drop whatever I’m doing and go walking whenever I see a hint of pewter light shining from the western horizon, for clouds move quickly and the sun sets suddenly. If you’re in the middle of a flat landscape–like, say, at the municipal airport–when the setting sun is doing magic tricks under the edge of cloud-capped skies, you’ll witness the most miraculous of phenomena: the earth itself aglow, like God’s in the thing. It’s a brief flash in the proverbial pan, that instant when the clouded sky is dark and the earth itself–you yourself–seem luminous, glinting gray beams that are best viewed askance, like ghosts. In an instant, the illusion is there, then gone, tree leaves no longer tricked in silver, the sky merely overcast, gloomy. But the ringing in your soul remains after that wondrous moment, the blood pumping in your walking legs as your heart remembers what it meant to be alive at the middle of the gleaming gray earth, aglow.

Dillant Hopkins Airport, Swanzey, NH