The sun is setting behind the silo, right where the distant slope of Fort Mountain comes down to the line of tall spruce trees that march up the horizon, making another peak. What’s left of Johnson’s Diary Farm is outlined against the color rising, flashes of red and yellow and gold, then white, clouds arching up into the coming darkness. There used to be a farm house and long milking barn lined up to the side of the silo. When they burned away one May afternoon four years ago neighbors collected in a yard and watched from across the pasture. Many of them had grown up working on the farm. My children grew up playing in the hay barns, making forts from the bales and finding litters of kittens.
There is only one more evening for the sun to move a bit further south along the horizon as it sets. It won’t get to the south of the silo. David read that a closed fist held out horizontally is 5 degrees on the horizon. Using that as a measure, the sun moves about 40 degrees between the solstices here, from far up behind one of the Johnson’s houses, all the way down to the silo. It crosses the entire horizon of trees at the far edge of the pastures and hay fields, over the cemetery on the hill, past the small farm ponds, behind the spruce trees to the silo.
Looking at the path of the sun as it slips along the horizon, I’m reminded how beautiful it is where I live. How lucky I am. There was a farm that burned down, but the landscape remains. There was a family that grew up together in this house, but now there’s a new configuration of family. The days are short and cold, but all of this week’s light has been magnified by snow and then snow, and in less than 48 hours, the earth will reach the point in its orbit around the sun that we’ll begin to tilt back towards the light.