The Blue Hour by Maria Krouse

Her hair was always in a chic silver bob. I never saw her without her signature red lip. My beloved neighbor’s home lay nestled beneath the shadow of an elderly giant maple, and like her lips, her door is a vibrant carnation. Her house was neat yet lived in. Her walls are an eerie sage and the floors a creaky hickory. Beside her fireplace rested her favorite of all her pieces. The painting was of a fox burrowed in a hollow as night slowly approached. I was in the home of an artist. Her painting of the dusk scene was one of many. This was her favorite time of night, which she called gloaming. It’s the hour that entrances me – always so still and hypnotizing – when everything looks a different shade of blue tinting the world. Gloaming reminds me of sadness. Yet, it shows how sadness can be beautiful. Night isn’t something to fear but to embrace.

The soft purr of roaring traffic, buzzing amber street lamps, a cricket’s lullaby, and a hauntingly eerie silence between each breath. Night is what gives me hope. I am raptured by its deceiving beauty. Despite how scary and dark it may be, its intimidating manner lures me into its comforting shadow. It is the one excuse not to be doing something. During the day, there are all these expectations to work, to learn, to eat, to converse, to try. Night doesn’t have any expectations of me. It gives me a restart button at the end of the torturous hours of daylight. I love the colors of night. How the bright pastels and piercing brights transform into faint gloomy purples under the smoky haze of sapphire. The neon glare in store fronts and soft auras surrounding tall buildings. Or the sounds, like the hum of a glowing sign or the chorus of starlings at the break of dawn. Or the taste. The taste of a ripe plum or a metallic clove. Or the smell. A peppery aroma of sage and sweat. Or the touch. The warmth of a crackling flame or the cold of whispering wind on wet clothes clinging to blistered skin. Night is something I can always depend on at the end of the day, quite literally.

I can always count on it to soothe my problems. It can remedy the aches and sores of the sun, like a dip in a bubbling creek or a salty cove. I love to close my eyes and transport myself to the rugged coast of northern California. I imagine the inky water exploding into the rocky shoreline. Nothing compares to night at sea. That’s when I truly feel alone and small. Being the only mortal on the mile stretch of sand besides the night spirits or souls from shipwrecks long ago, wandering for eternity to find their lost love. This mythical place I speak of is nestled in the midpoint between gritty San Francisco and remote Eureka. Sea Ranch is a small community of earthy elderly, hermits, and anyone who smiles at the idea of not having to see another human being for days. I don’t have much of a connection to Sea Ranch in particular, but mostly to anything that runs from Santa Cruz to Fort Bragg. Since I was little, I can remember driving along highway one. I can remember looking out the window at the deadly drop into ice cold waters and bewitching fog, all beneath the starry sky that melted into the endless horizon, of course. 

I think night frustrates us. Through the blurry figures, intelligible silhouettes, ghosts, and sounds we can’t identify. But that’s where the beauty lies. Night doesn’t care. It’s the universe trying to tell humans to shut up, slow down, and pause. And I find that to be refreshing, like the crisp frigid air under a harvest moon or the chirring wind in the willow branches at dusk. Whether it be to sleep, to drive, to love, or to explore, I think night gives humans a chance or a mere excuse to find themselves. 

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