Folks, I recently visited a mate who lives in what a poet would describe as an enchanted, rustic, backwoods hamlet.
To the rest of us it’s a hick village in the middle of nowhere.
Anyway, after a long day of doing not much at all, I hit the hay early and fell asleep the way I usually do, gazing lovingly at my mobile phone.
I woke sometime later, peeled the phone off my face then blinked a couple of times to make sure my eyes had actually opened, because I couldn’t see a thing.
The room was darker than Darth Vader’s backside.
Just as I was seriously thinking I’d somehow gone blind, I saw the Milky Way glowing through a nearby window.
Eventually, I found the torch button on my phone and staggered outside. I spent an hour standing in the yard gazing up at the galaxy with my mouth hanging open like a startled yokel.
Folks, I’m no poet, but it truly was spectacular, sparkling and, um, nice.
Light flashed in the east as dawn broke and a chorus of birds greeted it. The colours! The spectacle! The yawning.
I stumbled back to bed for some more kip, and later over breakfast, eagerly told my mate what I had seen. He shrugged and said, “Night’s dark, day’s bright. You townies seem to forget that.”
He was right. For our earliest ancestors, before they discovered fire, whale oil lamps and mobile phones, most nights were spent in utter blackness. When the sun went down so did they because stumbling around in the dark was a sure-fire way of getting hurt, lost or eaten.
Today, I can navigate around our house after dark without turning on a single light because my way is lit by the glow of digital clocks and obviously far too many gadgets on standby. The Milky Way’s radiance is dimmed thanks to the glare of hundreds of streetlights.
Frankly, nature doesn’t stand a chance.
Which is a real shame, because it’s finally dawned on me that I’ve seen the light when it comes to enjoying the darkness.