I have spent many hours watching the sun set from my front porch. Just beyond the lawn and the flowerbed, there is a hillside. Scattered over that slope are a dozen or more locust trees with their feathery-fingered leaves. In the evening, just before sundown, the golden rays of sunlight filter through the leaves of the locust. As I watch, I feel like I have been transported in time and space back to Camelot. The backlighting of the leaves produces an appearance of mystery and beauty.

Leonardo painted this effect and called it chiaroscuro-which means light and shadows. In front of this wonderful effect, he often painted the Madonna and Child. He saw what I see-something otherworldly, yet in this world. Unlike Leonardo, it doesn't make me think of religious motifs but those of the Arthurian times.

Perhaps when I am older and closer to death (as if I didn't know that I am not close) I will be more drawn to the religious theme. For now, I hearken back to Arthur, the knights, and their shared dream-a hope for Camelot.

The sun is slowly slipping behind other trees and will soon turn off its light for another day. It has worked well providing light and warmth for the world to grow this June day. Even now, the golden hues fade into the precursor of the colors of the coming night. As the colors mix on my spatial backdrop, the darting martins and swallows busy themselves feeding in the fading evening light show.

The heavenly timer is nearly gone now. Soon, I won't be able to see my canvas of light and life. What is so moving about this scene and the setting sun backlighting the leaves of the locusts?

Gone is the golden yellow, replaced by pastels which in a few more moments will be snuffed out like a candle. Slowly from the side of the canvas, ready to paint in blacks and dark purples, comes night. The gold hues are completely gone and the air is suddenly cool. There I sit searching the darkening sky for meaning.

Was there ever a place nestled somewhere in this often foreboding world called Camelot? Was there a time and place of peace and tranquility devoid of fear and fighting?

The locusts look now like dark sentinels of death and dread. Gone completely is the golden glow that richly and recently blessed my eyes.

I want to believe that Camelot existed-not so much for Arthur but for me. If Camelot existed once, then maybe I will experience it in my lifetime.

The once yellow-hued clouds are now tainted with purple as they float across the canvas pulling nighttime quickly behind them. Soon I will go inside. Another promise has gone out like the setting sun. On the inside, I will go to bed wondering about the magic and mystery of the effects of backlighting on the locusts. I know that even if Camelot did exist, it must have been for but a brief moment.

Suddenly, amid my growing despair, there arrived little fireflies-just one at first, then a dozen, and now hundreds-and soon to be thousands. As they fly, they blink like moving lighthouses. Their yellow flashes break the dark void of night. What are they signaling to each other?

What message can I decipher from their pulsating light that illumines the darken yard before me? Do they know about Camelot? Perhaps not. However, their warm light provides hope in the midst of darkness. I will make it through the night with their miniature beacons of hope. Maybe Camelot will come, but first the darkening night filled with fireflies.