City lights at night

Dark comes so early now – it’s hard to make myself get out and exercise.

But the evening was warm, the air moist, a lovely mist had rolled in. I went for a walk in the city.

Even that early, 6:15 p.m., the city seemed quiet. Still lots of traffic, but the air itself muffled it down.

I carry a tactical flashlight with me when I’m walking alone in dark areas. Its beam of light is strong enough to temporarily blind any would-be mugger.

Testing it, I caught the fine water droplets streaking through the air:

Seeing the moisture made me feel enveloped and oddly protected. I bonded with the air – lighter, more at ease. Shrugged the cool off my shoulders and looked with bigger eyes.

I felt writerly, walking in the city at night.

I saw people in their comings and goings – a tired techie walking home from the office, a uniformed service worker waiting for a ride, a teenager hovering near the bus stop – and for each I imagined full characters in their own dramas.

My mind has a criminal tendency, so when I saw two men transferring packages between a UPS truck and a UHaul, I suspected a heist of Christmas gifts and surreptitiously took a photo:

[Today, the mystery was solved when I saw a UPS worker delivering out of a Budget rental truck. UPS has to handle an enormous volume in December; it’s smart to rent extra trucks rather than maintain that fleet year-round.]

I walked for an hour – up a quiet side street, on a bridge over the freeway, down a major thoroughfare. Everywhere, the water in the air softened the light and painted beauty.

An iPhone isn’t the ideal camera for these conditions, but then, the best camera is the one you have with you.

The blurring made these photos retain some of the softness that I saw in the night light.

It obliterated details that would distract from lovely lines and shapes, like this tree:

Very near the condo, I stood for a couple minutes just admiring the reflection of the street lights on the back of a road sign.


A woman walking her dog looked at me a bit worriedly.

I laughed aloud to assure her that yes, I am indeed crazy.

Feels good to be crazy, on this night.

Today’s penny is a 1990, commemorating 100 years of electric street lights in America: “By 1890 there were more than 130,000 arc lamps installed as streetlights.” 

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