For many of us, our days begin with the rising of the sun. We seek out the sun’s rays, between the deep shadows of towering intercity buildings or out on the expanse of bleached, sandy beaches. When the sun descends below the horizon in the west, we head indoors to squeeze out a few more hours of artificially induced visibility, then turn in for the night, waiting for the next day to begin.
However, not all creatures awaken with the sun. For some, the first stirrings from slumber begin with the arrival of dusk. In an alcove or the depths of a cave or crevice, the fruit bat stretches its wings and then swoops out into the jewel-colored sky, like a fluttering silhouette that dances overhead. Ghostly pale moths flit between the glowing orbs of newly-ignited lamplight, attracted to the warm glow. The owl swivels its head to survey the landscape illuminated by the last golden rays, catching the movement of any passers-by. In that brief moment between day and night, when the clouds stretch across a golden sky and the shadows yawn, the life of the nocturnal appears.
During the warmer months, the evening air is also filled with a distinct scent, seemingly concentrated from the heat of the sun. The ripe, sweet notes of night blooming jasmine mingle with the odors of sun-baked asphalt and dusty sidewalks, creating a singularly pervasive perfume that peaks in the earliest days of summer. The air is warm, sometimes thick, like an invisible syrup that infuses one’s lungs.
Dusk is like a moment when the Earth’s breath stills. The afternoon breeze, puffing and gusting throughout the post-noon hours, suddenly falls quiet. The scattering leaves, errant napkins, and clouds of pollen are briefly suspended mid-dance, and only the dust motes continue to twirl in the amber beams of the setting sun. Even the clouds appear to stop scuttling across the sky, their edges set aglow. Find somewhere insulated from the rumble and growl of the city, and in that moment, bird song rings more clearly, and the chirps of the crickets surround us, as if the afternoon haze has been swept away so that the sounds of the evening might finally reach our ears.