(noun) The soft, diffused light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, either from daybreak to sunrise or, more commonly, from sunset to nightfall.
Twilight is when the sun has gone below the horizon and the sky is still bright blue, but dusk is the beginning of darkness versus the end of light.
Some people crave the sunrise to start their day, others the daylight to keep them cheerful, some adore the sunset for the blush of colors, others are twilight seekers when the sky is still bright by the sun is no longer direct, yet others are the fans of dusk when the night begins. I am one of those lovers of the latter.
Twilight to me is the relief of the colors and the glory and the intensity of sunset. The sky is bright and clear, and yet there is no sun to warm my face. To me, it is the first comfort after hours on end of intense bright light. I can still do my chores and finish up my tasks before I retreat to the indoors and there is still some residual warming to keep me comfortable.
The dusk, however, is a time for nocturnes like myself to wander the outdoors free of the squinting pain of daylight. It is the noble time when lack of light leads the world to turn black and white with no discernible color about it. I can see into the bushes and between the trees, but the murky absence of light creates layers of shadow that can hold great mystery. It is only in the dusk and the true end to the day, that my mind fills with the images of what I did that day that was productive or nonproductive, silly or serious. Then, my mind places those occurrences within the framework of a week, a month, a year, a decade, a lifetime. It is the reminder of the end of a day that has me not yet hoping for the next day and what will be, but concentrating on the reality of what was.
When people say “he was in the twilight of his life,” it does represent a place on the timeline of life, but it also represents a thinking process, a time for review. This is probably why I adore the autumn season so much. It’s not just Halloween and bright colors, but everything is preparing to go into stasis and that moment at the winter solstice that I so love when I am relieved of my duties to enjoy a self-imposed stasis and protection from the heat, the sun, and all the “tasks” that must be done in the warmer clime. The preparation for hibernation and retreat to the indoors is a comforting gift that brings one back to the family and the hearth, renewing one's energy for the next summer to come and rewarding one with a moment of peace and being rather than doing.
In the movie “Reign of Fire,” the heroes discover that, with the waning sunlight at twilight, the dragons’ keen vision is murky and they are unable to detect the humans. The heroes used this one flaw in their sight to protect themselves. Twilight has always held a fascination for me because it was that time of the day when the female nurse screamed in the summertime near our creek at Aspen Grove. Lots of us had a theory that she had drowned herself during the Civil War at twilight on a summer night. It seemed terribly appropriate that at she would not kill herself at the birth of a new day and new beginnings when the slate is cleaned anew, but would do so at the death of a day and all the memories it carries of her lover's demise. There is a great deal of angst about the end of a day and all that didn't get done, one more calendar day on your aging chart, one more missed opportunity. For many, this is a sad time filled with regret and self-condemnation.
The other side of twilight into dusk is that things come to life. Things that are vastly different than ourselves. Things that carry the dark with them like a blackened fancy cloak. Zombies, vampires, werewolves use the coming darkness to transformation. When we were children, that was when the monsters came out from under our beds. It is the time when the dead walk the halls in ghostly form. The only true mysteries left in life are held in the darkness of the night. Twilight and dusk are the anticipation of the stark real world under the exposing sunlight changing to the world where fairies and vampires, ghosts and closet monsters still exist.
Try today to sit outside or view it outside your window(depending on your climate) with the lights off. Watch the world go from a neon sunset to an intensely blue sky to the drawing curtain of darkness and observe what your mind and body feel. Any lingering sadness the day is over? Any hibernating tendencies to curl up and escape? Or any animal-like hunger to prowl and join the darkness of the out of doors and become one with the nighttime?