Monday, September 7, 2009

Greenland, part 2: nighthawks revised

Tonight we ate inside an Edward Hopper painting: it was dusk, then night, and in front of the giant pine, the outdoor table squatted under its wide, light-draped umbrella. When I walked onto the steps, the cinematic, two-dimensional quality of the scene - table and chairs, sitting man, surrounding darkness - literally stopped me in mid-stride. Is there a word for when reality looks like a painting?

Catching sight of that particular moment felt like turning my head while driving and staring straight into the Vermont sunset. Congratulations, the world says, you almost let that one slide by, but you made it. Now breathe.

Only, unlike the sunset, I got to walk down the grit- and leaf-covered steps, over the fallen crab apples, and out onto the lawn and into the picture.

Beneath the sparse weight of placemats, bowls and wine bottle, the dusty marble tabletop shone dimly in the light from the string of hanging grape-shaped fairy-lights. White plastic garden chairs circled the table, and behind them, under the pine, the curve of the small chrome grill glowed through the darkness. Chrome, shadow, yellow light, a group of people caught in Polaroid stillness, this one holds a fork, the other a glass... I wish I'd figured out how to upload pictures from the Palm (and also, perhaps, taken one of this particular vignette); it was such a perfectly framed, American realist moment. Ah well, you'll just have trust me when I say that for a brief period of time, life appeared as art.

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