One of the trends I have noticed around my cottage country is the preponderance of “light noise” that seems to be happening. Gone are the days of a house having a single outdoor light, perhaps a small spotlight shining over the wharf or driveway.
Instead, everyone seems to want to have street lights and huge spotlights shining on every nook and cranny. Apparently we no longer want to look up at the stars sparkling in a clear summer night sky, we prefer to look up and have our eyes burned out by 500 watt spotlights….
I think it is probably human nature to want light. Unlike our animal friends we don’t see well in the dark, and….we are also scared in the dark. It’s not a comfortable feeling for us.
Instead of relying on the dark to hide us, to rest our eyes, and to sleep, we are somewhat afraid of what it hides from us. Probably with good reason, the dark after all is the time when the predators prowl, be that human or animal, ‘the bad guys’ like the dark. So we like to eliminate it as much as we possibly can. But what are we missing? What are our kids missing?
I remember my own experiences as a lad walking back to the camp from my friends place in the dark, scared, nervous and rushing along the gravel road to get home, and that same experience lived by my own daughters 20 years later.
It’s one of those cottage life bonds, those experiences that although experienced separately at different times, become shared between us as we all know what it felt like to rush home along the narrow gravel road in the dark, thankful as the kitchen light became visible ahead and you knew you had made it safely home.
That’s unfortunate. Think about what we are missing when we eliminate the night. Try to look at the stars overhead in the city, to see the features on the moon, or even to watch a satellite going past in it’s orbit.
Compare that to the night sky outside of the city, away from artificial light. It’s an entirely different experience, and one that is far more enjoyable. The constellations become clearer against the blackness of the sky, the stars twinkle brighter and with amazing clarity, and shooting stars offer us a glimpse of one of the true marvels of the universe.
It’s just not the same in the city. The night sky doesn’t hold the same magic, the same mystery, and the same awe that comes from a clear evening of star gazing from a dark place, one without a lot of light.
As cottagers we are lucky to be able to enjoy that experience. Think of the inner city kids who perhaps never get to experience the awe and wonder of the night sky in the clarity that comes from seeing it from a dark place. They are missing one of the most beautiful experiences a person can have. I never tire of star gazing, of sitting under the stars and watching the universe, imagining what might be out there, and realizing how small we are, and how little we really know.
I believe the real mysteries of life, the real mysteries of life on earth are tied to the sky. Early peoples conducted their lives around the night sky, around astronomy, perhaps for reasons we don’t really understand. Stonehenge, the megalithic stone structure in Britain for example, is only one of many ancient monuments associated with the night sky, so too are the pyramids, also associated with the sky. What did those people know that we don’t?
So…while I support your need for the comfort and security of good outdoor lighting colorful patio lanterns and those elegant little solar lights, I hope you will turn them all off occasionally and enjoy the dark.
Pretty as they are, little orange and red plastic lanterns, while bright and cheerful on some occasions, do not compare with the wonder of the stars twinkling above.
We would have a campfire, cook some hot dogs and marshmellows and maybe even roast a potato on the coals. Then, as the fire died down to embers we would lay on an old picnic table and look up at the night sky, dreaming of what was up there and what our future would hold.
Of course we thought we saw unidentified flying objects and on some occasions we did, although they probably were not alien spacecraft, but then again, I don’t know that….they were after all, “unidentified” Sometimes we would have an old portable tape player going in the background, Elton John, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds but that….is another story……
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