Festival of Lights Part 2
Ok, so when I set out to share some of the holiday spirit with y’all, I had no idea how extensive my research walks and bike rides might need to be in order to even scratch the surface of what my fellow Santa Rosans are putting out there this year. And of course, what with all the daytime photos of deflated blowup characters, I realized that for you to grasp the true magnificence of what some of these houses show, I’d have to get back there at night.
Being the exercise nut and climate-concerned-citizen that I am, I’m doing these explorations on foot or by bike only. I’ve now done a few after-dark walks, including some along streets so well known as the local hotspots for holiday-lit houses that they have quite literal traffic jams after dark. One’s a dead-end street, so the cars take longer to make it to the end of the street and back than most walkers do – spewing noxious fumes the whole time, thanks very much. But for you, dear readers, it was well worth the excursion. These few forays have given me the usual overload of photos to show you. I’ve edited them down a fair bit but there are still tons. There’s more to come in the days ahead, more specialized and even a video edition to look forward to. I’m going overboard on this particular post for the simple reason that today, when I’m posting it, will be the shortest day this year here in North America. So enjoy these lights and the knowledge that our days will steadily be growing longer in the weeks ahead.
The overwhelming use of light and electricity reminds me of flying into Paris once on my return flight from a work assignment in a remote town in eastern DRC, very far off any electricity grid. We landed before dawn, so I stared out the window watching the narrow lines of lights along streets become wider and more dense as we flew ever closer to CDG, until I was looking out the window at the dazzling night-time lit-up City of Lights, and my befuddled brain thought “man, they must have the world’s biggest generator!” Then intellect clicked in and reminded me that I was landing back in the wealthy, well-resourced parts of the world where a few generations of humans have been able to take for granted things like available electricity from a regulated grid, drinkable water out of taps in one’s own home – usually even both cold and hot running water, no less. So indeed, even in this year where my little pod of one sometimes feels a bit attenuated and played out, I do recognize the many, many blessings and advantages for which I am grateful. May we all find compassion and gratitude in our hearts here at the end of this challenging year — for each other and this gorgeous planet we’ve been blessed to live on. Peace.