I had the delight and privilege at a recent event to get to know a sweet lady from Canada. During our conversation, we realized we had many things in common, including our love of nature and the outdoors.
My new friend is a bit older than me, perhaps closer to my Mom’s generation, so her memories go back further into the time before technology completely hijacked our country, our culture and our lives. She shared that she felt the greatest treasure we lost with the advent of electricity in our homes, was “dusk.”
When I asked her to expand on this idea, she told me when she was a child, living in rural Alberta, everyone used to gather on the porch in the summers after supper, enjoying the waning of heat, and savoring the last moments of daylight.
“There is a certain quality to that space,” she said. “The shadows get long; the light takes on an almost mystical quality. Birdsong quiets and the shy animals start to emerge. It is nature’s gift to us, a time of quiet rest and reflection.”
Having spent six months out of last year living “close to the land” I immediately understood what she meant. Modern man has a tendency to go inside and flip on the lights the moment the sun starts to set. Out our windows, back-lit by a 100 watt bulb, dusk is lost and night time suddenly arrives.
One evening last summer I washed the dishes, brushed my teeth and decided to go out for a few moments of solitude. The sun had long since set, giving way to a dusk that can last hours during the summer in this part of the country. It was around 11:00 p.m. and the stars were starting to pop out in the darkening sky.
I took a deep breath of the cool air and stretched muscles sore from a long day of physical work. At that moment I sensed movement nearby. Turning, I made out the ghostly form of a giant bull elk silently gliding through our pasture behind the shop. He stopped momentarily at the fence, lifting his majestic head and turning to look at me. His antlers were dark against the feeble light remaining, their forms blending with the branches of the old willow behind him.
After a brief pause, he easily hopped the fence and continued on his way.
I stood and watched him until he melted into the shadows. After, I wondered if I’d dreamed him, the experience was so surreal.
Don’t get me wrong. I love electricity. We lost ours at the lake for two days this fall and I have to say it really, really sucked. We all take for granted how much we depend on electricity for our daily lives.
It is always our choice to turn off the TV, put down the cell phone, close up the computer and enjoy the gifts nature has to offer.
When we moved to the Northwest I was convinced I’d have to give up the spectacular sunsets I’d enjoyed my whole life, as a resident of New Mexico. Yet since our move, we’ve had many spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Thanks to my cell phone, I often have a camera at my fingertips, even if it means clicking out the windshield as I’m driving down the highway.
Some of my fondest memories of childhood were sitting on the front porch with my Mom and Dad, talking about our day, watching nature unfold in front of us, whether the antics of a cottontail or the fury of a thunderstorm. It was better than TV, and no commercials!