Liminal lights

_C1_9275.JPGFayetteville on Friday put on its holiday season getup, switching on hundreds of thousands of lights around the downtown square. The event’s been plenty cold in past years, but this evening it was warm enough for T-shirts and shorts. Arkansas is part of the South, obviously, but it’s not so Southern that seeing a parade with Santa Claus with temperatures in the 60s is normal.

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_C1_9297.JPGThe temperature mismatch has corrected itself since Friday evening, but in my mind it does help show how we’re in a liminal, transitional time at the moment. It’s not quite winter, but more and more of the trees are bare. Some people have Christmas trees up while others won’t tolerate holiday music until after Thanksgiving, thank you very much. I’m still having a hard time believing it’s already the week of Thanksgiving at all.

We’ll snap out of it soon enough. In the meantime, I’ll take some advice from this lady: If you’re selling kettle corn, make sure you save some for yourself.

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Parade of Light

_C1_1613The solstice and astronomical beginning of winter is a month away, but we’re as impatient as ever to get into the spirit of the season. One northwest Arkansas radio station, usually featuring music from all over the past 50 years, has been playing solid Christmas music for weeks. The stores, freshly cleared of leftover Halloween candy, have shelves of Christmas decorations. So far I’ve resisted, but last night Fayetteville held its Lights of the Ozarks lighting ceremony and parade, kicking off the holidays with lots of people, lots of selfies and 400,000 lights. I had to go.

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_C1_1622I’ve never seen so many Christmas lights on trees with so many of their leaves still attached, as if to highlight how much we want full-fledged winter to get going already. No matter how screwy the mix of lights and leaves seems, the effect can be strikingly beautiful.

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_C1_1786I shouldn’t be too hard on us; snow flurries fell around here this morning, and temperatures are forecast to fall below freezing tonight. Maybe nature’s ready for winter, too.

Thanks for looking!

Dan

In the Air

_C1_4397You all know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, right?

I’m just teasing, but it’s funny to me that whether it’s in my family’s house or on Fayetteville’s square, the week before Thanksgiving is the time for Christmas lights. Maybe it’s still warm enough to put them up, or maybe it’s that sunsets these days are so early that we need to fill the evenings with some light of our own (I swear every year the sunsets get earlier.). Or it could be that we’re impatient.

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_C1_4492Most of this week’s photos are from the first night of the Lights of the Ozarks in the square, an annual event that organizers say includes half a million of those cylindrical bulbs. In true Ozark fashion, the first night resembled a county fair, with stacks of corn dogs and a pony merry-go-round in between glowing trees. Lots of families and lots of selfies, too, of course.

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_C1_4264I wonder if there’s any cultural significance to our focus on light during the season of darkening skies and hibernation, the night of a figurative year-long day. Is our light defiance, or just a calm source of comfort and fun for ourselves? I don’t mean to drag it all down, but it’s interesting to think about, at least to me.

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_C1_4552This is Razorback Stadium, bathed in red light from the jumbo screen. The pinkish glow of the clouds above was visible for at least a mile. Just for kicks, I suppose.

_C1_4561These guys were having fun spinning their own lights just outside my apartment building. The next morning I went home for an early Thanksgiving. As is tradition, Christmas decorations came out after the big dinner.

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IMG_0437My dad’s side of the family gave me an early Thanksgiving because I’m heading to my mom’s in Arizona this week — should be a good time, and some places and people to photograph on the side.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving (or Christmas) or don’t, I hope this time of year brings you comfort and lights and good food. Thanks for looking.

Dan

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