This is part of 30 days of microadventures for the lockdown – you can find more about other episodes here.
I arrived at the end of yesterday, without having gone out of my house. I had once again been defeated (so I thought) by daily life happenings. But determined to give my mind a rest before bed, and having heard there was a full moon that evening, I stuck on an extra jumper, grabbed my head-torch that I’ve used up mountains in the dark, and set off to see what I could explore at night.
Going out in darkness has mixed emotions for many, including me. I’m aware that I’m a young, single male, who is used to running/fitness, and so many would say that it’s all very well for me going out alone at dark, but they would never do so. Perhaps some would have similar emotions to travelling solo as a female round the world too – many would caution against it, and many a blog post has been spilled, debating one side or the other.
But knowing your area is key to all this, and the place I’m living is well lit, and open enough (even going through some tunnels and past areas of thick bushes) that I’ve no concerns. Still, I tend to take a light (not my phone light) and an extra phone (a brick not worth stealing) as a precaution on night adventures. And you’d be surprised past the stereotypes – some major cities in the world like Cairo in Egypt, seem to be super-safe at night in most places. Other smaller cities elsewhere I would never walk around at night. Belfast, where I currently live, is largely dead at night, and there’s very few places in it I don’t know intimately, in order to navigate them at any time of day or night.
I hadn’t gone far when I realised that the full moon was actually far more than that – it was a super moon! I wasn’t quite able to stay out til 3.30am to catch it as its best, as I’d to get up for important work meetings in the morning, but at 1am, it was already lighting up the whole area around.
As I only had my phone camera and I’m not even a wizz with it, my photos certaintly aren’t the most stunning thing ever – but I hope they’re an illustration of what you might be able to glimpse on a night walk (which normally I wouldn’t disrupt by taking pictures).
And what if you don’t have a super-moon to look at?
Well two things come to mind. Firstly you could get an app on your phone which helps you understand what stars in the sky are visible and what constellations and planets are around. This could turn your gazing at the majesty of the stars into a far more educational experience. Similarly, photography apps for phones, or better cameras, are both more readily accessible in this day in age, and make taking night photos, far more pleasant an experience for the amateur like myself.
Secondly, you could just enjoy night walks to calm your body and mind. I went out for 40 minutes, didn’t seen anyone, and the only sounds I heard were the hum of distant traffic in the city, the ocassional “gleep” of a startled oyster-catcher (or something similar) on the water, and the lapping of gentle waves on the lough shore. Bliss! Tranquility at its best.
I’m sure there are far more night animals around that could have been spotted, but for me, I just wanted to breathe out and unwind, after a long day, so a walk on moonlit paths was plenty for me to enjoy for now!
As a society, we’ve tried to tame the dark and make the dark unknown, seem controllable. Many cities across the world never sleep, and always have hustle and bustle. Many places light up every area with electric lights, so that dark no longer exists and cities can be seen radiating light for miles around. Many people no longer live and sleep by hours of natural daylight, the way many in past ages used to.
But still, rationally or not, many adults continue to fear the dark in small ways or big. There’s something more unknown. Something sinister. Something tiring about staying awake for many dark hours, as well as the light ones.
And it’s physical darkness, leading us to think of spiritual darkness that many Christians remember on this “Good Friday” coming up. Perhaps a walk in the isolation and darkness might help you meditate upon that this week.
Happy microadventuring! Do keep sending me your ideas, or things you were inspired to do, and I might feature some of them in due course!