Shitty Shoppers
The Jolly Old Elf

The Longest Night


It seems wrong that tonight's full moon is called the Cold Moon when it's 59 degrees outside. (It's also called the Long Nights Moon; I wrote about that a long time ago.)

It's also the Winter Solstice, when darkness falls at 4:39 in the afternoon and lasts until 7:19 tomorrow morning. A long, long night. So much dark.

I have mixed feelings about the night.

I'm scared of it, a legacy of another cold Winter Solstice 46 years ago tonight. Several years ago, when I still worked in DC, I'd sometimes have to take the bus home from the Metro station. The bus stopped pretty close to the house, less than a quarter-mile away. By the time I got there it was full dark. I would try to be cool about the walk. I mean, come on, it wasn't even six o'clock! But my body wouldn't hear of it and I was on high alert the whole time. Sometimes I would sing all the way home - The Hockey Song, to be precise - so that maybe anyone with malice aforethought would think I was nuts and leave me alone. But it also made me smile and before I knew it, I was unlocking the door and was safe inside.

But I also love the night. I love sitting on our beach house porch in the night, watching the lights on the bay, or being on the beach looking at the moon and listening to the music of the ocean. I loved riding in the spool wagon, heading for the next lot, watching for the arrows to appear out of the darkness and guide us on our way.  I loved lying on the dock at the lake at our favorite campground, watching the stars and the Milky Way.

There was one winter night in the late 70s, shortly after a dear friend died of cancer at 33. I was at a party at a farm. There was a blizzard. At one point I couldn't handle the noise and the people, so I put on my coat and walked outside, just a little ways away from the house. I let the darkness and snow envelop me and I flung my arms out and cried. It was cathartic and I was able to rejoin the party. That could not have happened in the daytime; that was a night thing.

But now that I'm older, I crave the light. And with the passing of this long night, the light will come back, little by little.