Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Season of Evenings

Low Light, Flowers
Walking through town just as the light began to fade, I had one of those odd moments when everything falls into a rhythm. A woman in very high heels had just unlocked her bicycle from a pole and began rolling it down the sidewalk toward me, her shoes clicking on the bricks and the hem of her coat fluttering in the breeze. At the same time a second-story window opened and there was the late Jim Morrison's drunken baritone singing "come on now touch me baby." The sound warped a little, carried sideways by the breeze. Just then someone down the street slammed their car door and the alarm went off, a persistent beeping without that edge of harshness it would have had, had it been closer. As I stood still for some seconds, letting the woman in the heels and coat maneuver her bike around me, all of these events became harmonised. Click-click, beep-beep, what was that promise that you made? Click-click, beep-beep, why won't you tell me what she said? The woman looked up toward the open window as she passed me, and suddenly I was flooded with a sense of deja-vu.

In the Russian language there is a word - a verb - to describe the onset of evening: "vechereyet" (вечереет). It's an archaic word, but still used on occasion. The closest English translation would be something like "evening is coming," but the mood is not the same. And it's the mood of that word that's important. You hear it, and you feel an "eveningness" gently setting in. It's an anticipatory state, fostering expectations of moonlight, cricket sounds, a chill in the air, perhaps peals of laugher in the dark. I remembered this word on my way home today. The sun had nearly set and when I looked at the time I saw it was 5:35pm. "This is the last week of October," I thought. A season of early evenings awaits.

48 comments:

  1. I Love this post. It is as if I were there with you!

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  2. I love poetry, when it looks like this.

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  3. That is so interesting. Does Russian also have special words for when morning is coming, winter is coming, and so on?

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    1. Oh right, good one. There is one for dawn, and it's even more archaic.

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  4. A season of early evenings. And projects!

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  5. Lovely language! I could imagine the evening myself. Thanks!

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  6. Compelling, irresistible imagery sweeping us immediately into your evening streetscape, catching our breath at the beauty, falling too into our senses of evenings past and to come, the mystery of our being. So beautiful, Velouria. An evening to remember!. Thank you for such a surprise gift! Jim Duncan

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  7. And I had the opposite feeling earlier this evening (in Christchurch, NZ) when my friends arrived at my house after a ride in the hills. I saw the time was 7:30 and I thought to myself "this is the start of the long evenings and going for rides after work!"
    And the world turns...

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  8. Perhaps the very best thing about living the cycling and pedestrian life style is the connection to the environment.

    So glad you are able to put into print what many of us feel.

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  9. Come on, Velouria, time for a book.

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  10. I'd gladly kick in on a Kickstarter project for a Velouria book.

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  11. Yes, a book. Bike Snob can do it, so can you. I skim many bike blogs and have read many bike books, and it is very rare that excellent writing (which requires a literary imagination, not just good prose) and good cycling go together -- that is why BSNYC has succeeded (in his own way, obviously, because his imaginative "take" and yours are poles apart).

    Speaking of emotional "atmospheres", I don't suppose Russian has an evocative term to include Morrison belting out "LA Woman" in broad daylight on a summer afternoon on a light, classic road bike on a rolling country road? (From celestial speakers?)

    Back to books: I recall off the top of my head two epic, really epic, travelogues, Miles from Nowhere and a more recent one whose title I forget. Epic trans-world cycling adventures. But alas, the writers were no Therouxes or Newbys and their frankly pedestrian worldviews diminished their tales. (I must read Devla Murphy -- haven't yet.)

    You have the litrary imagination to make even quotidien observations interesting. So, again, please, a book.

    Possible unifying theme ("Bicycles" is too broad): class, discuss.

    Everyday cycling?

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    1. It's interesting how there is an implicit assumption that a blog is a stepping stone to a book and that naturally a blogger wants to get recognised/discovered/signed by a publisher. I've had book offers and declined them; I sincerely have no interest. The blog gives me a lot of freedom. I have a wonderful audience. I am compensated by sponsors, who, to their credit, have never tried to influence my content. I can write about whatever I want, as often as I want, as silly and trivial or as serious as I want, and I don't need an intermediary to publish it.

      With regard to Bike Snob, I am very pleased for him and he seems to enjoy being a published author. But you might notice that every time a book comes out he has to go on a relentless tour to promote it for like half a year, and also to promote these appearances on his blog, twitter, etc. I am not willing to do any of this. And I assure you there is no money to be made on royalties alone when it comes to a niche genre. I've been down that road before.

      I've been published before, and would like to be again in future. But I doubt it will be about cycling.

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    2. Dervla Murphy's Full Tilt will not disappoint

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    3. No! Let's hope most bloggers do *not* write a book! Bad news for reader, author and publisher. You, on the other hand, have the talent. Whether you want to is another matter entirely -- I personally would seek out such a book but understand if you don't want to write one.

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    4. Understood. You don't want to write a book. I was just saying that if you did, I'd be so onboard that'd I'd want to help fund it....

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  12. gloaming, descent

    sliding peacefully
    into darkness,
    warmth, lamplight

    fires light
    welcoming sofas

    woolen bundles
    against crisp,
    fragile air

    brandy-warmth
    held in,
    autumn chill
    held out

    gently blanketed,
    relief, softness
    contrasts
    rigidity of day

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    1. Thanks Dave.
      Now that is chapbook material.

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    2. Creativity fosters creativity... :)

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    3. Okay then, can you try it in Lithuanian?

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    4. Sure, I'll get back to you on that one (will take more thought, my Lithuanian is getting rusty) :)

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    5. Ok, here goes :)

      Leidžanti, saulė
      per dažytą dangų
      teka

      Oras, trapus,
      lyg švelnas lietimas
      sudužtų visatą

      Prie ugnies,
      protarpiais, žmogus
      tingiai sugeria
      brendžių šilumą

      Kaip senas bičiulis
      užklysta paguoda
      į kambarį,
      sėdi ant sofos,
      ir per naktį
      tauškia

      užmerkęs akis

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    6. Wow, nice.

      Although I understand maybe 4 words, so that doesn't mean much coming from me : )

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    7. ok, two corrections, one which I noticed, one which a Lithuanian friend pointed out:

      brendžių should be brendžio
      sudužtų should be sudaužytų

      As for translation, here's an approximation (translations are never absolute, after all):

      Setting, the sun
      through painted sky
      flows

      the air, fragile
      as if a soft touch
      would shatter the universe

      by the fire
      in-between-times, a man
      lazily absorbs
      brandy's warmth

      like an old friend
      relief wanders
      into the room
      sits on the sofar
      and chatters on
      through the night

      eyes closed

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  13. Yes Russian has a lot of beautiful words that capture moods. When I read your account and my own blissful memories of autumn twilights, this song came to mind from Sergei Nikitin from the Movie Ирония судьбы (Irony of Fate) a great New Years movie

    Я спросил у ясеня, где моя любимая,
    Ясень не ответил мне, качая головой.
    Я спросил у тополя: "Где моя любимая?" -
    Тополь забросал меня осеннею листвой.
    Я спросил у осени: "Где моя любимая?" -
    Осень мне ответила проливным дождем.
    У дождя я спрашивал, где моя любимая,
    Долго дождик слезы лил под моим окном.
    Я спросил у месяца: "Где моя любимая?" -
    Месяц скрылся в облаке - не ответил мне.
    Я спросил у облака: "Где моя любимая?" -
    Облако растаяло в небесной синеве...
    Друг ты мой единственный, где моя любимая?
    Ты скажи, где скрылась, знаешь, где она?
    Друг ответил преданный, друг ответил искренний,
    Была тебе любимая, была тебе любимая,
    Была тебе любимая, а стала мне жена

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    1. Oh those Soviet New Year's movies are dangerously sappy stuff!

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  14. Think about it: you get drunk, hammer out a bunch of purple prose on an ancient Smith-Corona, signed, sealed, delivered...

    Without me putting my two bits in. I'm sure that would be an appealing alternative to the dreamists here.

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    1. Predicted outcome: The book will never get done, but I will start a typewriter blog...

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    2. Oh, can I be a contributor? :)

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    3. So true.

      I learned how to type on one, my bro has a couple. Earlier this year he sent me a real letter...typed on one...from a cafe! I'd love to do that in the MacWorlds that pass for ours, though a few people complimented him on the racket it made.

      "Stronger than dirt"

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    4. "Predicted outcome: The book will never get done, but I will start a typewriter blog..."

      I have a brother-in-law (one of many) who has a sizable typewriter collection. I gave him my grandfather's 1933 Royal. Damned thing still works. It is as beautiful as a Raleigh Roadster, and possibly weighs more.

      This was a treat to read, V.
      It reminds me of every blustery city evening I can remember.

      Also, I cannot get the word "Gloaming" out of my mind's eye, now. Gloaminging?

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  15. I was floating in a pool in Tucson, AZ yesterday afternoon, looking at the palm trees in the decidedly October light, thinking exactly the same thing, Velouria. Autumn light is unique and as fragile as ancient stained glass. Look through it gently.

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  16. I think that the word 'twilight' conveys much of what you have described. However, I recognize that this may be different for others.

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    1. There is a separate word for twilight. Twilight refers to the quality of light, but this word is more encompassing, plus the unusual thing about it, is that it's a verb. So, in English, it would be like saying "It's eveninging."

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  17. Thank God for Google Translate!

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  18. I've got a painter friend in the UK who goes out and paints the evening every day for, so far, slightly over one thousand days and counting. The language is, of course, the mark but the experience is what counts.

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  19. Is there a a Russian word for "this is part of my day."?

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  20. As I sit outside every evening, no matter the weather, I enjoy that moment when the sky is no longer dominant, but instead street lights make the ground and some oddly reflected areas available.

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  21. What the hell is going on here? People wandering around in the damn dark like the unemployed, muttering in foreign languages, lurking under windows listening to God knows what... GO HOME! Watch you some damn TV like the rest of us AMERICANS!

    Get a dang job if you got nuthin better to do than swan around casing the neighborhood. And where was yer damn bike? This is a BIKE BLOG fer cryin out loud, not the freakin' Christian Science Reading Room.

    Buncha crazylibral eggheads knowmoredamnwordsthansgoodforem...

    Spindamndizzy

    "Gloaming" Jiminy Cricket, what the hell kinda word is that...

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    1. "This is a BIKE BLOG fer cryin out loud, not the freakin' Christian Science Reading Room. "

      I am going to quote you on that...

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  22. I learned from this post. anyway, your photo was great very vivid.

    Jacob of biking Philippines

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  23. You know what I love about this blog—apart from the author's gift with words and the alchemy of turning the complex into the simple—is the commentary. I always love to read everyone's two-bobs-worth; from the effusive, to the slightly acerbic; the thoughtful and knowledgeable to the downright funny. More please!

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