I frequently write about my hikes in the morning forest and the magic of first light, but today I want to share the thrill of a late hike through forest understory at the end of a sunny day. It is a seductive hour when the light seems to take on richer hues as the sun sinks behind the trees in a blinding orange ball. Once again I am drawn to the darkening woodlands.
In the late evening forest, light casts an apricot brightness to trunk and fern, stump and rotting log. Everything seems to stand out more clearly for a short time in an amber tint. Gnarls and tangles, unnoticed during morning or mid-day, become stark silhouettes of abstract forest art. Thick slices of tangerine light climb branches like fire, then disappear. It is a time of day my camera rarely works well and I can’t explain it, almost as if the forest wants to keep those moments secret, allowing them to be experienced only by being present in them.
It’s the hour they call “the gloaming”, a powerful, lovely stretch of time when light becomes mysterious, when it seems to pull the darkness toward it, starts to wear it like an overcoat. It’s the hour when everything mossy begins to glow like hot embers, when the last chipper bird notes fall against the golden air, gliding through it like a knife through soft butter. It is the time of day I imagine forest life beginning to tiptoe, knowing that soon the dark hunters will be on the move. It is a palpable shift when plants and animals seem to hold their breath, when I can almost hear the light speak, whispering against the trees in soft citrine tones. It is a collection of slow minutes that feel otherworldly, as if the steadily slipping daylight might also briefly hold the possibility of a doorway between realities.
As I make my way out of the shadowy forest, my instincts become sharper, I feel fully present and alert. I sense the quiet rustle of night predators beginning their vigilant hours and know that everything else, even the carpeted green knolls and hanging beards of moss have secretly hushed, bowing to the advancing darkness in somber reverence.
Mossy Whispers: Play in the golden twilight. Give your soul a touch of amber mystery. Listen to the coming night, let it bring your instincts alive and surprise you with its deep, hushed beauty.