I haven't seen any blog posts about the hoop-de-do eclipse the other night. I was up around 2:30 and the world was bright with moonlight, although clouds covered the sky. I've spoken with a couple of people who saw the world go dark around 4:00. By then I was back in my bed. I had wanted to see that eclipse sky just because the last time it happened the Tudors were in power and I'll never get another chance. Such a historic event and I missed it for want of sleep.
Earlier that day, around 5:30, I noticed a patch of pale light on the bathroom wall. It took me a second to realize that it was a reflection of moonlight from the mirror on the opposite wall. It charmed me because that window is small and high up on the wall, and facing nearly north/northeast as it does, it hardly ever gets direct light. There's something about patches of pale light on walls that soothes me.
When I was very young, sometimes I would stay for the random overnight at my grandmother's. Her house was one of gazillions built in a little northeast mill town in the railroad heyday of the late 19th century, the front door opening into the side hall with the stairway (that bottle of pink Air-Wick between the balusters on one of the stairs) and with the rabbit warren of upstairs rooms. No hallways in the days when that house was built, each bedroom led to another. My room, the one designated for overnight grandchildren, was a small room off her bedroom, with a small metal frame bed and a white matelasse coverlet. She would tuck me in at night, we'd say our prayers, and then she would leave me. The excitement of streetlights would keep me awake. After she'd gone back downstairs, I always looked around for a long time, just to see how different the furniture looked, illuminated by the pale secret oblongs of light cast through the windows. Streetlights! Such sophistication to a country kid.
When I grew up and lived in a tiny studio apartment, sometimes I would sit with my lamps off at night, just to look at the room in the wash of yellow-gray light that came through the windows from the street. I could move around and do almost everything I wanted to do in that light, feeling hidden yet protected, private but not alone. The headlights from the infrequent car crossed the wall and disappeared. Here . . . and gone . . . the travelers oblivious of my observation.
I got married and we lived in the suburbs where, shortly after our purchase of the house, the town planners in their infinitesimal wisdom changed the zoning across the street and welcomed a twenty-four hour supermarket, with adequate lighting for the parking area. I was assaulted by, pummeled by, Light all the hours of the night. I could not find a dark spot. The charm of light at night was no more. And so we moved to the country.
In the country, there is night light even when the moon is new, even on cloudy nights: I don't know where it comes from. There is no problem navigating while walking outdoors at 2am: brush and stone walls are solid humps of black and the open ways are colorless. One walks carefully, still, since the dips and bumps of the hayfields elude exposure and an ankle can turn quickly; it would be a long cold crawl back to the house. Down the hill toward the village I see the amber glow of the lights around the sheriff's office and the jail. In the other direction, through the bare trees, more orange light, a faint glow from what is called a city, twenty miles away. Amazing that that light could intrude here, across such a distance.
As I grow older, I need (they tell me, correctly) more light by which to read. To live, it seems, I want and and am comfortable with less light. A few years ago a friend who was staying with us came upon me in the pre-dawn while I was setting up the coffeemaker.
"Why don't you turn on a light so you can see?" she asked.
"Oh, I'm fine," I said.
"Oh," she said. "You're one of those."
It's a contradiction, since I love daylight.
Maybe it's just artificial light that I dislike.
Another WTF moment at the 7MSN
12 hours ago