Ordinary Beauty

Broadway shows and other theatrical stage plays frequently use a device called a haze machine. It fills the air on the stage with tiny bits of moisture, literally creating “hazy” air. When the stage lights twist through the haze, their beams become noticeable, making the effect of the lighting more brilliant and glamorous.

The same effect happens when the sun shines brightly through a window in the late afternoon. If you stand still, you can see dust particles suspended in space that would ordinarily be invisible to you. Furthermore, the beam of sunlight through the blinds is definable. You could draw the edges with a pencil if the air would hold the mark.

The last two mornings have been misty hazy. At seven in the morning, I drive across an elevated highway ramp. It is positioned above an existing highway and yet another smaller elevated ramp, giving it a wide, clear view of the highway and streets below. The tiny water droplets misting down through the morning air created the hazy lighting effect from the streetlights.

From my perspective driving across the ramp, I could see at least three rows of streetlights on three different sections of highway. The long lines of streetlights were curving, intersecting each other, and stretching as far into the distance as the hazy air would let me view. Their shafts of orange light were distinct. Line upon line of soft orange light beams penetrated through the mist, with the deep blue dusky sky behind. The contrast of orange and blue is a vibrant color-scheme, even when muted by dim morning light and misty haze.

I actually caught my breath upon coming over the top of the ramp and seeing this image. I wish I could capture it with a photo, but I know enough about photography to know it would require a long exposure, which means the camera would have to stay still on a tripod for a second or more. Parking on the busy ramp and setting up my tripod doesn’t sound like the brightest idea, so I’ll have to store away the image in my mind.

Who would have thought simple streetlights could look so beautiful. When something ordinary takes my breath away, it reminds me how good it is to be alive.

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