The Suitcase Lady


August 29, 2017, 8:58 pm

My mother was a librarian who loved books and language. She never spoke down to me when I was young, thus giving me the gift of many words. I distinctly remember her explaining to me what she meant when tossing out the statement,”I love the crepuscular hour.”

“Crepuscular” is a beautiful word to say, and I share my mother’s pleasure in its meaning as well. So I was delighted to come across the following passage in Martin Walker’s book Fatal Pursuit. The author lives in rural France and his series features Bruno, the police chief of a small French village. Martin admits many of his characters bear a remarkable resemblance to his fellow villagers.

The scene begins as a group of friends is sitting down outside to share wine and a summer dinner:

The sun was setting, streaks of rosy pink and red alternating with scattered lines of cloud, and the old stone of the mairie (town hall) had turned into a rich gold. It was that brief moment of twilight before someone turned on the lamps over the diners, and Bruno murmured to himself one of his favorite words.

“Crepuscule”, he said as he looked at the red sheen of the setting sun on the bend of the river, not aware that he had spoken aloud until the baron repeated it back to him.

“Crepuscule” one of the loveliest words in our language, for one of the loveliest times of the day just as it gives way to night,” the baron said softly, gazing at the shifting planes of red and crimson light on the river. “Sitting here, with wine and food and surrounded by friends as generations must have done before us in this very place, makes all the world’s troubles seem very far away. Sometimes I imagine prehistoric people sitting here on the riverbank, sharing their roast mammoth or whatever it was, and watching the sun go down just like us.”

He raised his glass. “I drink to them, whoever they were.”

Summer is on the wane, and now the nights are numbered when we will be able to eat dinner outside and luxuriate in the crepuscular moments. We intend to savor every one.

3 Comments for this entry

  • Maureen

    Hi Mary,
    I had a wonderful crepuscular moment last night with our dog Daisy, sitting at the end of our dock on Lake Namakagon. What a spectacular sight, and peaceful moment, as the sun melted into the trees around the lake!

  • Alyce Weiss

    I learned this word from my oldest son on a trip to Sedona. He used it daily even to describe certain animals. I love the word but it is a tongue twister for me.

  • Julilly k

    I’ve always loved crepescule, but found the English adjective crepuscular ugly.
    After this post, I’ve decided to re-tool our word and decide to enjoy its muscularity and honor its references. Thanks, as always, Mary, for your transformative mi thoughts.