Magic hour

A pink bird embryo is nestled between small stones in the gravel alongside a road I walk regularly. It’s been there for several days now, through the intermittent rains, sleet and snow, the resounding winds, the bursts of soul-cleansing sunshine. My dog Berry found it first, nuzzling the nestled shape gently instead of chomping as she does with fried chicken bones and petrified poop.

At first, I was thinking about how unique the feathery snow that’s fallen this week has been. But I’ve found myself drawn back to the embryo repeatedly in recent days. Finding it lit within alternating bands of intense spring sun conjured layered memories in me of anticipation and dread tied to Vermont skies at the end of my high-school years, to college-related wind and rolling clouds over Ohio.

Physical phenomena can pull worlds together: skies and roiling light and cloud over Manhattan and Devon, Paris and the archipelagos of southeast Alaska. the Catskills, Berkshires, and various valleys. Movie crews have long described this time as Magic Hour.


I dubbed my unborn bird friend “Magic.“ I left it to become one with the earth, or at least part of the edge of the road I walk, in a natural way. Given the season, though, I do wonder whether some ritual might have been needed. Beyond our modern penchant for protests and uploads, rituals may be needed as we move through this moment in history.

But then I noticed the weeds pushing up through the gravel where Magic lies.

The earth has its own rituals. Sometimes all we can do is bear witness.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.