Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the light according to palms

Everyone knows light influences mood. The grand lighting designer for this latitude must have set the mood to “euphoria,” because here I am staggering around sun-drunk and bedazzled, high as a kite on the startling light in this humble inland city. I knew it would be hotter here—and it is!--but I didn't think ten degrees of latitude would lend such intensity to the visible light. The only place I've seen this shattering white radiance is at the beach.

I've always marveled at the light near the shore, even the cold New England coast. It is so clear, so pure, so exhilarating that I want to eat it, and I know it will taste cool and tart and clean, like fine lemon sorbet. This Louisiana light is Tabasco-sauce light. It burns my bare shoulders and leaches all the color from my midday flowers, searing its way into my brain until I can hardly think.

On this flat, floodplain landscape, under this transcendent light, I feel all the time like I'm about to round a corner and find an ocean. The local paper mill adds to the illusion--its sulfurous emissions stink like a salt marsh at low tide. People here joke that it's the smell of money, but to me it truly smells like the sea. I can't shake the feeling that I'm perched on the glittering edge of a continent. This is liminal light. I am poised on the brink of wonder.

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