Emily Dickinson says in her poem:
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Although I admire Dickinson’s work, I react to slants of light in the opposite way. In the gray stand of hardwoods behind my house, on certain days of the winter, one ray of sun will pierce the overlapping branches and strike against the trunk of a far tree. It is lit then as if it were the sacred stone struck by sunlight on the solstice, and my heart is lit, too, with the vibrancy of interaction, that by chance some natural feature will be selected in a way that will make my heart bound.
In my walks I have begun to snap pictures of trees, leaves, mossy banks, anything that the sun spotlights and shows me in a different way. I had never noticed, for example, the arch made by two small trees until the sun struck it one mid-morning walk. Is this the archway to fairyland? For possums to lumber through to a possum shuffle? A portal to a third dimension?
What I’ve discovered is that the light leads me to closer observation. Observing the sunlit areas of the woods forces to pay attention. Paying attention to details in nature will, I hope, help me pay attention to the details in my writing and understand which to highlight with words. In all the walks I had taken, I’d never noticed this natural arch until the sun showed it to me. And revelations happened over and over again once I had taught myself to observe.
Even saw briar with an understory of poison ivy looks dazzling with a coat of sunbeams.
And sunlight is helping me pay attention to objects not immediately of nature, too, like this play of light through glass and water.
Where else will the effect of one beam of light lead me?