Monday, December 14, 2009
One of the best things about wintertime is how early the darkness sets in. (I know, I know, this is also one of the worst things about wintertime, too)
In the summer, we have to wait so long until it's really dark, it can be a rare treat to experience the darkness outside. But in the winter, there's often time to play outside for a little while in the evening, before bed. And, up here in the hinterlands, it gets good and dark very early.
How often do you play outside at night? There is something just wonderful about playing outside in the darkness. Things look different. Even here in the city, most nights, we can see stars. At least a few. That's really exciting. And the moon, seen from the backyard, rather than through a window? That's thrilling too! It can be so exciting to experience familiar places like one's own backyard, or the sandbox, or even the driveway and a sidewalk or path you've walked every day, suddenly in the dark. It takes on a specialness that is almost sublime.
And what is the first thing we noticed when playing outside the other night? Things are quieter. Which somehow seems to encourage children to be quieter. Very few cars drive by. We can hear dogs barking from a few blocks away. We move more slowly, as if checking out the terrain for the first time (and, in a way, we are.) The snow (if you're lucky enough to be outside, at night, during a snowfall) twinkles and sparkles in the dark. You can create your own snowfall by throwing a shovelfull up into the sky, then watching it fall.
The snow on the ground casts a special glow that is just incredible to play in. Snow angels look more angelic. Everything is more enchanting.