The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.
When I stand in the center of our great room and look west toward the water, the view is framed by 240 square feet of glass, from the floor to the ceiling. As I look around, I see that I’m surrounded. To my left are two large glass doors that lead to the outdoor room. Behind me, a mirrored backsplash.
I never anticipated how it would feel to be surrounded by glass. During one of our first nights in the house, I noticed I could see my reflection in the wall of glass as I walked across the room. For a moment, I stopped and wondered how it might feel to see myself, head-to-toe, so often. I turned 90 degrees, sucked in my gut, and resolved to use the mirror as motivation.
I soon came to appreciate the glass wall as a feature of the house that exists in multiple states. During the day, it disappears and reveals a view over the Salish Sea, as it was designed to do. But at night, when darkness hides the view, the glass becomes a mirror to the interior. One minute you’re looking at the water, another you’re looking at yourself. I think of this as the time between glass and mirror.
In his one-man show called “In and Of Itself“, Derek DelGaudio talked about the period of time, just as the sun is setting, as the “time between dog and wolf”. He explains:
This expression, the time between dog and wolf, it comes from the Middle Ages. It was a cautionary expression that parents would use to scare their children, make sure that they got home before it got dark out. You better get home before the time between dog and wolf because at this time of day, it’s very difficult to distinguish a friend from a foe at a distance. It’s hard to tell the difference between a dog and a wolf. And by the time it gets close enough to you for you to make out what it really is, too late.
I never saw this as a dangerous time, though I always saw this as a time of possibility. It’s a very specific moment for metamorphosis. For me, this was the time when a dog could also be a wolf.
DelGaudio uses this as a metaphor for his skills with cards. At a poker table, for example, people may assume he’s a dog. But in reality, he’s a wolf and his advantage comes from people not expecting to see a wolf.
After the show, I couldn’t stop thinking about this expression. I started to notice the time between dog and wolf each day and what parts of the evening were transformed by it. Trees with brown bark and green leaves become black silhouettes. The ocean fades from color and texture to a featureless void. We change, too.
The end of the day is a time of reflection and the glass wall behaves accordingly. In the time between dog and wolf, our perspective, along with that of the glass, changes from outward to inward.
As DelGaudio says, the time between dog and wolf is a period of metamorphosis and possibility. It’s a specific period of time when a dog could also be a wolf. Maybe that’s also true for the time between glass and mirror. When the light is gone and the work is done, it’s time to reflect in glass that could also be a mirror.