There’s a thickening fog as I walk to the store well after dark. This chill gray blanket has hung around all day. The sun never had a chance. It didn’t even attempt to get through, or so it seemed, during the few hours when it kind of looked like daylight.
Yes, these weeks after the winter solstice we expect the days to be cold and short, but come on, we’re not on the Arctic Circe here. In Southern Oregon we’re well south of the 45th parallel, about the same latitude as the south of France, and we should not have to endure quite so much of this freezing boreal gloom.
I’m grateful for a lot of things on this brief nighttime hike, not the least of which is the Pendleton hat that keeps my pate from freezing. My friends at the newspaper where I worked gave it to me when I left more than a year ago. But the hat is black, making me even more invisible than I already am in dark jeans and a black jacket.
The darkness, though — and here comes the good news — has not won. Here’s a stretch of the street where mankind is fighting back, as we have, this time of year, fought back for millennia in the northern reaches of the globe.
With giant bonfires, that’s how our ancestors repelled the threat they saw in the never-ending night. And lucky for us, we have kilowatts to do the same. Well, some of our neighbors do. Let’s be grateful to them for these islands of blazing Christmas light, these beacons of cheer and hope that penetrate the blackness of the fog. (hh)