As well as busting some myths (the sky doesn’t suddenly become dark but in fact takes over an hour to transition from sunset to darkness) this experience revealed the beauty of this time of day and its distinctive atmosphere. At some point the trees took on a pink hue, even though there was no pink sunset. I felt a thrill when the shapes of the plants and trees around me blurred into each other as it got darker and then seemed to ping back into definition as my eyes adjusted and I saw them clearly once again. When the birds sang their last song of the evening and the garden fell silent, the atmosphere changed once again. The hour was peppered with unexpected moments of magic as another phase of the transition to darkness took shape.
‘Beautiful’, ‘enchanting’, ‘magical’, ‘memorable’ were just some of the words used by those who attended. Afterwards many, myelf included, had a very different winter and somewhat of a love affair with the dark. I found myself waking in the morning excited about walking to work in the dark so I could soak in the transitions in light and atmosphere for the hour spent in near-empty streets. Before last year I’d replaced my morning walk to work with a bus or tube ride until the light mornings returned - I now realise I’d been missing out! Nowadays, when I see the light start to fade at 4pm, I’m reminded of those beautiful, peaceful moments in the garden and even if I’m inside working I know that there is something lovely happening in nature and I have positive associations with the fading light.
Those of us who were enjoying the dark last winter were obviously in the minority. Lone voices in a sea of darkness protests - it’s not surprising, as the dark does indeed pose challenges. Darkness is often associated with fear. Few horror films take place in bright sunshine. Dark corners might hide something sinister. It’s understandable we may feel less safe without the light.
We also tend to associate darkness with night time so it can feel like it’s time to go home and to bed when we’ve still got an hour left at work, making the end of the working day a dreary struggle. It’s not our impulse to switch off and rest that is at fault here, it is the fact that our lives typically don’t allow us to respond to this natural impulse. Relatively recently in terms of human development, this is exactly what we would have done. Can you welcome these dark evenings as an invitation to take life a little slower? You can embrace the darkness without going outside to do so. Perhaps give yourself permission to spend the evening (or Sunday afternoon) snuggled on the sofa reading a book or chatting with your beloved by the warmth of candlelight. It’s a great time to getting all hygge and transforming your home into a relaxing sanctuary.