My favourite time of day is not night (as many assume due to my tendency to stay up till four in the morning), it's actually dusk.
At dusk, it's not completely dark and you can still see the trees and the outlines of the clouds that only a few minutes ago reflected the sunset.
Dusk is the centre of all the magic. The sunset is just fading, the streetlights are just beginning to be visible, the air is just becoming cool, quiet is just beginning to settle over the land. Dusk is the rare time of day that is equally gorgeous both in the city and the country. And it's fleeting enough that you can never get too used to it.
Around this time of year a lot of my driving happens to take place over sunset and dusk. It's all at the same time on the clock, but thanks to the changing of the seasons I drive around at sunset now and not in the dark or in full sun.
Driving is one of the few times I'm well and truly alone. Sometimes I enjoy it, though sometimes it kills me that no-one is with me. Today I enjoyed it.
Initially I hadn't wanted to go anywhere, but I needed to be at a practice at the church and so I (rather begrudgingly) drove to the church, in full sun. But by the time I left the church to drop off one of the others at her place, the sun had dipped behind the buildings and the trees. By the time I drove up to the last intersection in town, the pale pink sunset was already beginning to fade.
There are two ways home from this intersection. You can turn right and go straight, or you can go straight through now and turn right later. My parents prefer going right at the intersection and then driving straight home, but my love for city lights means I often go straight through the lights.
If you go straight through the lights, just beyond the halfway point between the lights and my turn, there's a little town. At dusk it's mostly closed, but the streetlights are on, the two gas bars are still open, and there's a little pub on one corner which always has coloured lights to stand out against the grey-blue sky.
Even before the town, though, the highway is beautiful. It's lined with trees most of the way. There's one short piece just before the town limits that's nearly closed in with tall pines on both sides of the road, then the trees open up just as the road drops and you go around a bend and over a creek. I often think I've wound up in the mountains, due to the view. It may be nicknamed the highway of death, but at least it's a lovely place. (This was the highway where I had my accident, and I know of at least four others who were also in serious wrecks along this stretch. One was fatal.) On the other side of town the trees thin out, but by then you're preoccupied with the beauty that preceded it.
Songs like Walls Of Doubt and Ghost Of The Heart were playing on my stereo as I headed into (and out of) the little town, complementing the scenery. But then that was the end of that CD and I put in my (shiny brand-new) Dig Here Said The Angel CD, hoping I could hear the title track before I got home.
With some careful speed-limit finessing (which can only be done in the country because city people get angry when you drive slower), I not only got to the third track, I managed to make it last for the entire stretch of road from my second turn to our driveway.
Driving along a gravel road, with headlights barely doing anything to illuminate it (I narrowly missed hitting a porcupine), and listening to that song while watching silhouette trees rise up into the steel-blue sky as a yellowish green light (a remnant of the sunset) illuminates a few sparse clouds to the west is a magic moment. Getting out of the rattletrap right after the song ends and letting that gorgeous chorus melody echo through your mind as you stand in open stillness at the edge of dusk is perhaps even better.