Where Does the Light Go?

I love an early snow. Love the shadows in the deer tracks on the mountain ridges, the way the snow leans against the window panes of Mt. Baldy Lodge, a roadhouse right out of a Bing Crosby movie.

November has come to the forest, as the poets say.

“Where does the light go?” a friend wondered the other day, speaking of the slow fade of late-autumn sunlight.

“Maybe inside us?” was his verdict.

Hmmmm, good-a-guess as any, my friend.

November is the month when you burn your tongue a little on some old family recipe. 

November just smells better than the other months. It seems cleaner, fresher, a little buttery…layered.

Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a week away? Love an early Thanksgiving. Wish it’d come in June.

Speaking of football, here’s a cosmic question for you: The other day, the Vikings and the Bills had a spectacular football game. Won’t go into details, but there were fumbles and other magic. It was a masterpiece.

Now, this game started at 1 pm on Sunday. Had the networks decided, a week earlier, to move the game to 5 pm, would the game have been exactly the same – the fumbles, the miscues, the crazy multiple endings?  

Or, because it was played later in the day, would biorhythms and body clocks change everything. Would the footwork and synapse times vary just enough that you’d have an entirely different outcome?

Would the coaches have been too coffee’d up to stay with the game plan? Would the QBs be not quite so sharp? Would the tailbacks dance a different dizzy dance?

I mean, why would the time of day matter? Yet, I suspect it does. The answer, I’m sure, lies in the laws of physics, fate, mysticism and emotional gonkiness.

By extension, how does the time we do things affect the outcome? Should we break up in the morning? Should we make love at midnight?

I’m no Einstein, I’m not even Jewish, or very deep, or particularly well educated or well-read. Well, I am well read. But little of it sticks.

I also seem locked in my own personal time warp. I’m still getting over John Wayne’s  death. I still drink Bosco, I play with Silly Putty.

Did you know Silly Putty was invented during the 1940s when the Allies were short of rubber? That’s right. Boric acid plus silicone oil equals goo. Silly Putty won the war? Well, not exactly. But we’re all the richer for it.

In short, I am my own museum.


By the way, know what’s underrated? The family couch. I mean, is there a happier place this time of year? Good games, snowy movies, re-runs of “Taxi” and “Cheers.”

To hear my son Smartacus laugh at Danny DeVito the other night was a form of chamber music. Do parents love anything more than the sound of their kids’ belly laughs? I’d rather hear Smartacus laugh than sail the world.

That’s what’s missing on TV these days: laughter.

Know what else is underrated? Long walks on November days…the amber light…the crunch. November walks knock something loose, reboot the brain, season the psyche.

You crunch a few acorns, you kick through some leaves. You try to figure out where the light goes.

 “L.A. is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities,” Jack Kerouac once wrote. “N.Y. gets god-awful cold in the winter, but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.”

Well, you should see it now, pal…the parks, the underpasses.

But, fundamentally, I disagree. You want wacky, come to L.A. You’ll find endless blocks of strip malls, butt-ugly apartments, and freeways that tie us up like bank hostages.

That does something to a person. Know what it does? Drives him to the mountains or the sand.

But in L.A., at least you have that option – hop a mountain, skim the sea.

A jungle? Nope.

That’s glorious, my friend.

That’s where the light really goes.

Thanks to Forrest Gale for the “where does the light go?” question. He always has an interesting take on things. Meanwhile, email the columnist at Letters@ChrisErskineLA.com. For past columns, books or gifts, please go to his website, ChrisErskineLA.com. Cheers.

9 thoughts on “Where Does the Light Go?

  1. Lovely and thought provoking post, as always. Quantum physics, to my understanding, would say that every situation has many, many potential ways of playing out. Where you put your attention brings one particular possibility to the fore and then everything lines up as THAT version of “reality.” So, changing one factor like the time of the game would definitely alter the way it shows up in our plane of existence. Don’t know if the ultimate outcome of who won would come out differently, but a lot of the specifics that you so eloquently enumerated probably would have changed. You’re welcome.

  2. so that explains why my Bruins failed last Saturday night! 8pm is not the time to play good football.

  3. There are some musings in which I cannot decipher whether you love or hate not just LA, but Southern California. I smiled at the mention of nearby Mt. Baldy Lodge. In the end I surmise that you are like the rest of us. There are parts you love, parts you hold in contempt, but treasure the uniqueness that is only found here.

  4. November was my absolute favorite month back in Chicago–leaves fully turning, frosty mornings, early snow, THANKSGIVING!!
    But you’re right about LA–you can easily pick a short drive to an escape point any time it strikes your fancy. Lucky us!

  5. Always enjoy your stories!! Here tho to defend SoCal. L.A. is not for everyone — but for those who love it as I do — there is nothing missing!! Despite the terrible traffic, there is an energy that beats living in an isolated place I think. The inhabitants are mostly very nice, surprisingly nice and there is the flora & fauna! Beautiful gardens abound and the weather —- well — the weather is HERE!!:)! Some marvellous ethnic restaurants or hi-end if you prefer. The art galleries, Disney Hall, the Music Centre — I could go on:)! Sorry I love it and missed it when I left once some time ago!!

  6. So glad my turn to host cards for the ladies is tonight; in addition to all the other good things about November, it is also an excellent time to try Posh’s chili. Will be sure to tap, tap, tap!

  7. Chris, I agree with you, November is the loveliest of months and yes, it just smells better than the other eleven. Maybe it’s the turkey and all the fixings, or time spent with friends and families, but the crisp air and glorious early sunsets are my favorite too.

  8. What price seeing others clearly, and being clearly seen? It’s a sine qua non of writing, and of life, and what’s going on, here. Sir Francis Bacon said,”We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand. And melting like a snowflake”. To paraphrase the cliche’: who has ever died complaining about having too much fun? It’s that time of year when the light slims down and these things add up. May the warmth of our climate and the season overwhelm you. It’s thanksgiving. Love all you can.

Leave a Reply