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November 14, 2012: In the Absence of Light

T.S. Eliot once said that April is the cruelest month. Quite obviously, he did not live in Alaska where November is the cruelest month. It’s mid-November and darkness impinges. And it’s only going to get darker. Seven hours of daylight, or thereabouts now. Daylight is a relative term, unlike sunlight, or moonlight, or starlight. All daylight means is that it’s a shade lighter out at 2 p.m., this as opposed to 2 a.m. And even that is going to be short-lived.

I would not have thought about writing a dispatch like this ten years ago. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more bothered by the seasonal lack of light. It’s

not seasonal affective disorder because I don’t get depressed. Rather, I get to feeling claustrophobic. The feeling is akin to having been put in a large black plastic bag. Why is this? And why am I now constantly thinking about spending a week or two in a bright, warm place? Hawaii – I would like to go and check out all nine islands.

It’s now 6 p.m. and I’m sitting here, and facing the realization that I have an entire evening of darkness stretching out in front of me. If say, I go to bed tonight at 11 p.m., I will have sat in the dark for five hours. (Actually six, because it got dark an hour ago, but who quantifies.) And what am I going to do in this time? Write and read. As I said previously, I have rearranged my day so that I’m now outside when it’s – ahem – daylight out.

At 11 p.m. I’ll go outside and feed the goats and horses and clean up after the horses. We don’t have motion detector lights; rather, we use headlights at that late hour. Pete has one and I have one. Misplacing one or the other slows things down because then the other person can’t give a much-needed assist.

Well, at least we have lights in the house. The animals do not have lights – just moonlight and starlight. So this means that right now, the goats and horses are standing around in dark for 17, count ‘em, 17 hours a day. That’s a lot of hours. As they say, inside of a horse it’s too dark to read. Poor Hrimmi. When she came into the world last May, it was getting lighter. And that’s the way it remained until June 21st. She seems to me to be pretty upbeat about this, more so that I would be if I were a young horse.

There is probably an up side to all this, and that is that right now I am not living across the river, over in the Butte. I was there a few weeks ago, and darkness was impinging because the area is in the shadow of the mountains. We have south facing exposure, and the mountains are at the distance. So yes, things could be worse.

Next: 340, 11/15/12: Spirit Animals