Monday, November 03, 2008

Let There Be Light

It is a wondrous time we are living in truly. A leftover project from my house renovations a few years ago---installing a landscape illumination kit I had bought and stored away---was completed last week, when a new acquaintance of mine suggested he undertake the work. I must say, the result looks spectacular.

Being neglectful of everything but the state of our national soul for several seasons now, I had come to accept the gentle decay of my garden as something to be desired even. It helped in coming to terms with the starving deer (they could have everything below four feet, I could have everything above that plane.)

Certainly, "improvements" were something left far behind me, especially for something as symbol-laden as an entranceway. Truthfully, I wasn't holding out much hope for the low-cost Malibu-brand systems I'd purchased at Home Depot, and nothing looks worse than cheap outdoor lighting in my book.
But those unopened boxes of transformers and low-wattage lighting were still handy, so I said yes to the initiative. The only attention I could spare was to offer the barest approximates of what I'd intended, and then to say, now leave me alone until lunch. So when the job was finished, after two short days, when I went out into the night, I was deeply startled by the results.

My friend Red had created a thing of beauty, which I told him, was larger than then the sum of its parts. Red has the same last name as a well-known local family of electricians (Motto: Let Us Fix Your Shorts) but not the license--the result of his checkered resume and quite a few years spent in the state pen.
Apparently, I hadn't made any purchasing mistakes. I told him he didn't have to use everything present, as I didn't want an airport-runway look, but I also didn't want to buy anything more except wire. Since I'm someone whose brain shuts off when I pick up a tool, I can appreciate the intricacies of hard work, having failed so often at projects.

All I really remembered anyway were the little seven-and-a-half-watt, half-moon down washers, which I'd gotten to screw through retaining walls I built out of railroad ties covered in mud cement and topped with brick. I must say, Red balanced the distribution between the two longer, and one shorter lengths of straight wall beautifully. But it was in his execution of the leveling and spacing, which a trained eye could find fault with in an instant, that he really pleased me. Lastly, everything is tightly mounted, so I'm trusting his trenching is to the same high standards.

I live on an old 18th-century farm road, which retains some quirky flavor, so I decided I could safely relocate the front door of my old farm house to face south without appearing eccentric. This orientation away from the road almost feels like a snub to the world, but it allowed me to utilize a narrow wedge of property that formerly was useless and had been given over to woods and vines. There was room for a wide drive, which incorporates a gentle curve behind which hides the first view of the house and barn. This builds suspense and heightens the climax, as I'm sure you know. Shouldered in high earthen berms, thickly planted, it provides for a perfect privacy, and I felt I'd aligned myself with powerful feng shui forces. Of course it didn't work well after dark, but that's what Tiki torches were for.

I'd acquired heavy urns at auction to decorate the drive and I was the first person to have asymmetrically positioned a pair of them---as far as I know---anywhere in the Hamptons, with the pedestal on the outside curve being two feet higher, as though you were psychologically rounding a banked turn at Le Mans.
I knew to place them well in from the road, away from vandals, but alas. Their first Christmas I put evergreen trees in them with old fashioned colored bulbs, and I must say, they stood out! Coming home in the December darkness one night, I could tell from far off that one was out. But driving in I saw that someone had pushed it over. Miraculously, since it comes apart in three sections, it had toppled, but hadn't broken. I didn't think to turn out the lights on the other one as a protective gesture, and I should have. Knowing this time how heavy they were, the vandals came back later and they must have really run down the drive, and gave it a bigger push---and this time the large bowl fell and broke into many pieces. I still have the base and footing, which a climbing rose grows up on---that is, when the deer let it. But the asymmetry factor was lost.

I can't remember what negative energies I was serving as a lightening rod for at that moment in time (there have been so many.) But I recognized afterward that there was a certain amount of hubris involved in my design decisions, and that what resulted was purified of any pride.

Would it engender feelings of enmity in readers if I were to say the entire lighting project came in at approximately $1,000? That would explain why we aren't supposed to talk about money. But for me, that is so cheap as to be unbelievable, so you do see how blessed, and protected, and cared for I feel in consequence?

I hope you feel that way too and that you've earned it.
This blog is less about the world of form, and more about the realm of light.
Ugh! I'll leave that last line as written, although, its pretentiousness shut me right up.

No comments: