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March 26, 2017

As I sit in my study and write this by the light of an incandescent bulb

I'm very appreciative of electric lighting. My father grew up before rural electric coops brought light into farm homes.
The marvel of lighting a room with the flip of a switch wasn't lost on him. Nor on me. I hadn't heard of this Earth Hour thing before. Too bad it takes something as contrived as this seems to be to remind us of the pleasure and mystery of darkness at night.

I live in rural Minnesota, about three miles from the nearest town. The ambient glow of lighting is dim but ever present. But I am fortunate that the starry welken isn't overpowered by it. On a clear night the sky here is astounding. I'm truly sorry for those of you who don't get it. Darkness and silence are two of the scarcest commodities on earth.

The problem is not that we are able to have lighting where and when we want it. The problem is the wretched excess of lighting where and when we don't need it. Look out the window the next time you fly at night. Almost everywhere, even in the middle of the night, our world is glowing. You will see acres of empty parking lots lit up brighter than a high school football field on Friday night.

Where I live even abandoned farms have multiple security lights burning from dusk to dawn, a vestigial carry-over from when gypsies and hobos might steal a chicken or a fresh pie of the window sill. How thoughtlessly stupid.

I'm not going to get into climate change, global warming or energy consumption. I have opinions but no expertise, specialized knowledge or insights. What I do know is the pleasure of stepping outside in the middle of a July night and listening to the pulse a world that I can't see. The magic of sitting in a canoe in the Boundary Waters wilderness listening to the cries of loons announcing their presence on a moonlit lake The atavistic sensation of letting my feet find a path in the night woods.

If you don't know and don't care then its going to take more than an Earth Hour to enlighten you. Posted by: Snowgoose Earth Hour: Click to Fade @ AMERICAN DIGEST

Posted by gerardvanderleun at March 26, 2017 2:54 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Beautiful. I have had such experiences long ago and far away. Recently, only deep in a canyon, where it gets dark early and you have to look straight up to see the sky, have I found it. Silence and darkness. You do have to seek it out.

Posted by: Leslie at March 26, 2017 4:36 PM

That's all very nice, but you can afford darkness in the country in Minnesota. Having the lights out in cities is a hugely bad idea.

Posted by: Monty James at March 27, 2017 6:30 AM

I love the open wilderness too and as a city dweller I'm constantly reminded of my starvation for a rural home and life.

You re right Monty, turning the lights off in any city is a recipe for all hell to break loose.

Posted by: Jack at March 27, 2017 8:01 AM

Rarely do I sleep more than 4 hours at a time, so very late, I walk the woods behind our home, lightless. The moon tries to be helpful but I'd rather it not. I stop, and sit, and listen. Takes a while to get it right. The tinyest of things, the nightmouse scurrying under the leaves. The raspy horned owl in the distance hears it too. Snow is magic, and loud. I can see forever. My hearing is gone, but out here it can find the isolated sounds with ease, distance and direction. For me, this is where it will end, covered with leaves and deadfall and your memories.

Posted by: ghostsniper at March 27, 2017 8:16 AM

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