Soundtrack: Cocteau Twins, “Essence”
Something happens to the night air when the temperature dips before 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s hard to describe–maybe rarefied air is the best way to describe it.. I noticed it when I walked outside tonight. I was working late and at 6 p.m. I left my office building and walked out onto Broadway on the south side of Madison. I would describe that stretch of Broadway as being about as nondescript as Madison can get.
But I noticed something different tonight. I was immediately struck with how clear the air was. There’s something about the chill that wipes the air clean. The stiletto streetlights were glowing differently—brighter, more luminescent, and it felt like I could see further down the street than before. Broadway began to feel like an empty stretch Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, even though the only things nearby were a PDQ gas station, the Beltline Highway, and South Towne Mall with its parking lot mostly empty.
I really noticed it when my bus crossed Monona Bay along John Nolen Drive. The Capitol glowed a brighter white than I’d seen in a long time. Maybe this is rarefied air.
In many ways I like November better than October, even though the more beautiful fall colors are in October. I can’t quite explain why. It might be because I like to write. This “dark of the year” is a time that is more reflective and quiet, and writers love to reflect. (Maybe that’s why NaBloPoMo is in November?)
The snow hasn’t fallen yet. Snow is pretty, but it also becomes something you have to step around, make sure you don’t slip, and it becomes gray and dirty slush. But this time of year, the ground is still dry and clean, it’s cold, but not too cold, and there’s a certain clarity, a certain calm that settles in between the Halloween craziness and the holiday rush. I want to close my eyes and savor it…