Dark Days

Somehow we’ve found ourselves suddenly approaching the shortest day of the year – that last bit when you leave the house and it’s dark, get home, and surprise, it’s dark!

To paraphrase Yogi Berra: It’s getting late early out there.

Other people I know can run around their neighborhood at all hours on the sidewalks, under the lights. Not me. It’s very rural where I live. In fact, I have to drive about three miles away just to see a street lamp. Sidewalks are a good five or six miles away.

Like I said, rural.

I have a whole collection of darkness-related running items – like clip-on shoe lights and knuckle lights – plus a rainbow of fluorescent-colored and reflective clothing. I’ve been told you can see me half a mile away, which is a good thing. I also run with a small knife because, besides the dark, we have wild animals and the occasional shady person.

But that’s a different story.

Anyway, recently I had a meeting at 7 p.m. and I was thinking about the dark while I was driving, because – you guessed it – it was dark. But it’s funny how wintertime dark is different than summertime dark.

It had been one of those days where it started out raining, rapidly dropped in temperature, and then snowed for a while. By the time I left for the meeting, the precipitation had cleared out, but it was overcast so it was just dark, extra dark. No moon, no stars. Just my headlights trying to cut through the pitch black, with the automatic high-beams flipping on and off as the occasional car passed in the other direction.

Automatic high-beams make me wonder if we’ve gone a bit too far with the technology. I flip them to auto mode because I have the feature, but I do wonder who felt that it was just too much work to move the lever back and forth.

Technology-related questions aside, the dark is kind of a funny thing.

Why are we afraid of the dark? Is it the fear of uncertainty?

Really, anything could be lurking in the bushes I suppose, ready to jump out at any moment. Years ago I did a presentation at my job about workplace violence, and I would quote a statistic that more instances of violence occur at night than during the day. But I always thought that had more to do with the fact that more alcohol is consumed at night and less to do with the fact that the sun has gone down.

I wouldn’t call myself an “afraid of the dark” person. I’m more of a “vigilant and always watching for something strange no matter what time of day it is” person.

Whatever type of person you are, bust out the flashlights and live it up in the dark while we look forward to the time of year when the sun doesn’t set until after 8 p.m.!

Editor’s note: The darkest – or shortest, if you prefer to think of it that way – day of the year, which is the December solstice, is almost upon us. After that, we start to gain daylight, little by little, heading toward spring. So do not despair, sunlight worshippers, soon we will be heading in the right direction.

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