Saturday, January 2, 2010

Country dark

Nighttime is different out here. Our trip to Toronto reminded us how bright the night is in the city, with streetlights and billboards and marquees. That was part of the attraction, when we lived there - there was always company, always activity, always the bright lights of the city.

When we moved to Victoria we were surprised by how dark the nights on the Saanich Peninsula were, and we even lived in a little neighbourhood with streetlights. But there seemed to be about half the number we were used to, and their light was a soft, muted yellow. And the quiet at night was new - on the odd occasion when Frankie had to go out in the middle of the night it was so quiet our neighbour's soft snoring floated to me through his open bedroom window.

Well, nights at Mucky Boots are even quieter, and even darker. It's so dark (that sounds like the start of a bad joke) the gate becomes a challenge late at night: it's easy to find and open with car headlights shining on it, but when you can't see your feet, getting back to the car without falling over a rock is something worth celebrating. And then once we're through the gate and parked, if the moon is hiding, finding our way from the car over the lawn, up the stairs and to the front door becomes a feeling-with-our-feet, balancing-with-our-arms kind of dance, which turns into a comedy if along the way we drop our keys.

With the days so short, and dark coming so early we have to be aware of where we are come 5:00 or so. One afternoon Kim was so caught up with sorting and organizing in the workshop dusk came and went without her noticing, and when she'd had enough she couldn't make it back to the house it was so dark. Thanks goodness for walkie-talkies.

Santa got a few hints and we found two flashlights each in our stockings this year. My favourite is a hands-free version, on a stretchy band that fits around my head. It's great for reading in bed, although if I get up to pee with it on, the wavering light as I move across the room makes me feel like I'm in a remake of the Blair Witch Project.

On the other hand, when the moon is full and the skies are clear, the moonlight can be so bright there are shadows (oh - that's what a moon shadow is!). There is a big window and a skylight by our bed, and seeing the moonlight streaming in one or the other on such nights is worth waking up and fumbling for glasses in order to see better. And that doesn't even take into account the stars - oh, the stars, zillions of them.

It's hard to take a picture of the dark, so here's a photo of Frankie meeting the no-electric-heat challenge. Our goal was to make it through the winter on the heat generated by our wood stove alone, without turning on any baseboard heaters (except in the music room, where regulated heat is important for Kim's guitars). We were doing so well until we started renovations in the family room, and had to disconnect the stove in order to tile underneath it. And then we left for a week, and couldn't count on the cats to stoke the stove while we were gone. I figure none of that really counts as a failure - more like a sabbatical. We're back on track now.

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