As winter nears I've been spending as much time as possible at Salt Point and its surrounding areas. A few weeks back I visited the bluff above Fisk Mill Cove at what John Sexton calls the Quiet Light - that time about an hour before dawn until sunrise, when the light is gentle and enveloping. When I arrived the stars were out, slowly disappearing one by one as sunrise approached. I wandered along the sandstone watching the scene change and, although I'd passed this rock many times before over the years, on this morning this image presented itself to me.
While reflecting on how many times over the years I'd passed this rock and never photographed it, I was reminded of what Walter Pater wrote in his concluding chapter to The Renaisance: Studies in Art and Poetry:
Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face; some tone on the hills or the sea is choicer than the rest; some mood of passion or insight or intellectual excitement is irresistibly real and attractive to us, - for that moment only. Not the fruit of experience, but experience itself, is the end. A counted number of pulses only is given to us of a variegated, dramatic life.
Pater makes three points that struck home with me that morning - that we can only see things at certain moments, that experience itself is more valuable than the prize, and that, as a friend recently reminded me, this life is finite; there's no second act.