Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I've discovered that people in Amsterdam do not have shadows. Even in the light of mid-day. Even in the wide open spaces of the city... That presumedly perpetual sidewalk companion, typically adhered to the soles of our feet, is conspicuously absent from my perimeter -- and from that of every passing pedestrian or bicyclist. And as far as I can see, no one in Amsterdam has a shadow. At least not in February.

It's not the kind of thing that one typically notices. In fact, I don't believe the realization had ever dawned on me prior to yesterday morning. I was astonished by the epiphany, however, and for the rest of the day I found myself staring out the window and wondering at the lack of shadows on the busy sidewalks of Amsterdam -- almost as if some Hollywood post-production studio had been hired to digitally erase the image of the shadows from the cityscape, to make some kind of subtle point that could be pointed out on the DVD commentary.

Of course, the explanation is simple and scientific -- though I dare not attempt it. All I need to know is that during the long, slow, upward climb toward spring, Amsterdam is washed with a flat, filtered, gray sunlight that brings neither shine nor shade... And I can't help but feel there is a symbolism in this -- even if I can't completely identify it or put words to what it is. A world without shadows would seem to be a good thing... But I'm not so sure I like it.


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