It’s no secret that twilight is the most magical time of day.
The sky is a beautiful gradient of light blues, deep pinks and oranges and finally a dusky purple, just creeping over the trees – or in my neighbourhood, houses.
If you’re as lucky as I am all of the lilacs in your neighborhood are starting to bloom and the humidity is just enough to trap the intoxicating smell on every street, every balcony, and just outside every window. At dusk it draws the people out onto the sidewalks with their babies, their lovers, their parents; all for one last glimpse and taste of daytime before it’s time to lock themselves inside with Law & Order re-runs (…is that just me again?).
You can whiz past these slow and sleepy stragglers from your bicycle if you’re lucky and the weather is right. You can catch the last vestiges of daylight and of it’s reign on the world as you pedal faster into the night.
This isn’t what makes twilight so magical, or what makes it the perfect time for a bike ride.
As the sun sets everything takes on a violet tinge… or is it lilac? The people are sleepy, the curtains are closing, even the leaves look as though they’re about to curl up and fall asleep – but for other creatures this is only the beginning.
It starts with the glow of the moon. The moon’s been up all day, but only now is she glowing against the dark purple night. As you whiz past houses that are starting to close up for the night, you notice it’s smaller, furrier inhabitants just coming out. In cities, cats start to walk down driveways to stand by the roadside after shaking off their docile daytime personas. They’re not lazy lumps in the sunlight now, they’re hunters and the first to welcome the twilight. They scamper off after tiny lights bobbing and weaving through dark green blades of grass, and from the seat of your bike you can’t really be sure they’re fireflies and not something… else.
The sounds around you change from car horns and kids to crickets and soft murmurs from the quiet of porches. You can hear the street lights pop on and buzz softly, or are those cicadas? Now that the streets have cleared you’re going to fast to be sure. Everything becomes a hazy blur of dark blue, purple, dark green, bouncing lights, fluffy whooshes, and was that a stop sign?
You don’t pass anyone at any intersections, you never have to stop for a car or a stroller or a friendly face. The cats are lining the streets like sentinels guiding you home, the scent of lilacs making you feel dizzy. You look up and see brown blurs flying fast arcs around your head, moving too fast to be birds.
You see your first star. Then your second.
When you slowly come into your driveway you see the empty spider web has a big brown inhabitant. Almost like she’s always been there. Like she was waiting to see you.
The magic of twilight is that it’s two worlds at once. The world of the day and night coming together. The blur of your speed, the whooshing of the air past your ears, the sound of your own heart beat – it all makes the transition seem like a cross over onto another plane. Were those fireflies, or were they fairies? Where those cats watching you? Were any of those blurs birds, or were they bats wondering how anyone could move like them.
To you and the rest of the daytime world this is the end, the quiet and sleepy time to say good night and good bye.
But to those cats, those bats, those bugs and those stars this is a brand new day, and you’re the only one out to wish them a good one.
Well, you and those lilacs.