Just Leave Me in the Dark

I’m left in the dark at our place a lot, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m comfortable there.
Once my husband and I started a family, we outgrew our tiny two-bedroom home and my father in-law agreed to switch houses with us. After moving into the home where my husband grew up, the sodium yard light that came on every night was the first thing I said had to go. I couldn’t get used to the sharp light shining through our windows like a car’s high beams and it irked me that I couldn’t shut it off. Since I was emotional about moving (I was expecting our second child and liked the setting of our small house better), my husband appeased me by having it taken down.
I didn’t like our yard being lit up all night with harsh fluorescent light casting its green-tinted rays everywhere. I realized that I preferred instead, the warm, soft, yellow glow from those evil energy-sucking light bulbs that used a switch. I didn’t care how much money or energy sodium yard lights saved, they didn’t compare to the savings of not having one on at all.
Pre-yard light removal, I didn’t have any control over it coming on or being able to shut it off. Once it was gone, I found it very gratifying to turn lights off and being in control of shutting off power; even if it was just turning the porch light off. Flipping switches made me beam, because there are things like my brain and people that are out of my control and I can’t shut off.
I don’t consider it a bad thing that our place goes unnoticed at night either. We couldn’t run out to the shop or vehicle or gather clothes off the line in our skivvies at night if there was a yard light on because cars drive by. The absence of light doesn’t announce to passersby where we live and as far as the security that a yard light provides, our dog does a better job than any highlighted yard. I know these modern amenities allow some people to sleep with peace of mind but yard lights aren’t soothing or calming to me. Their annoying presence wakes me up or keeps me awake and makes me feel too restless to fall back asleep easily. If our yard needs lighting for guests or to investigate a noise or activity outside, the porch light does the job and I can shut it off once it’s not needed anymore.
I don’t regret getting rid of our yard light. They ruin the dark, star-studded nights that I prefer and they don’t provide the same soothing and calming ambiance that full moons do. Summertime campouts in our backyard wouldn’t be the same with a yard light shining in our eyes and blocking the view of the super stars that I look up to. Yard lights don’t hold a candle to the shooting stars my family and I have seen as we drifted off to sleep.
Being in the dark to enjoy the Milky Way, shooting stars and full moons is just what I need to light up my life. All a sodium yard light does is turn me off.
column originally published August 16-22, 2009

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