People often think me a misery guts when I tell them that I prefer dark nights to light ones, that I can’t wait for the cyan and turquoise to dim with dignity following my evening meal rather than stretch cockily toward midnight. I can understand why they feel this way, as sunshine and light in general are seen as a good thing: they quite literally brighten up our day and envelop us in a warm, salubrious blanket, directly supplied by the one celestial body that practically every civilisation has worshipped at some point during its history.
Generally speaking, people love being outside when it’s light. They spend as much time as possible sunbathing at the beach, having a picnic in the park, sharing a pint with friends in a beer garden or simply taking the dog for a walk, basking in the natural glow before the electric streetlamps become the main source of illumination. They lap up every last ray, often to the extent that they damage their skin to a visible degree, and scoff barbecued sausages and burgers dripping with sauce, despite it disturbing their long-term health kick. We just can’t get enough of the sun; a shared trait amongst young and old that has been around since we lived in trees, swinging by our tails and picking lice from one another’s fur.
And yet still I prefer the autumn and winter months.
I’m not a goth or an emo and I don’t have photodermatitis, I simply find darker nights more peaceful. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy greenery and birdsong as much as the next bloke, I just find muted light much more welcoming, far less intense and intrusive, and an excellent balance between dazzling sunshine and blinding darkness. Sitting outside a favourite bar and watching a molten orb set behind blushing clouds around 8pm, then moving indoors where it’s warmer and a little more lively — that’s my idea of a perfect night out. Plus when it comes to a dusky evening, it’s so satisfying to get comfy on the sofa and watch a movie with a friend over a tube or two of Pringles, rather than feeling obliged to go out and “get some air.” (I have air in my house; it does the trick just fine.)
The reason light nights are on my mind is that Saturday 21st June is Daylight Appreciation Day. This marks the summer solstice, which, though twenty-four hours in length like all others, is referred to as the longest day of the year. Many people across the world hold parties on this night, revelling into the early hours, sometimes even greeting the arrival of the sun with the same dance moves they used to pay tribute to its departure just a few hours prior. Whatever you choose to do on 21st June, be it hardcore merrymaking or silent contemplation, try to appreciate the amount of daylight hours you are allotted. Or, if you’re like me, take solace in the fact that the days will become increasingly shorter from hereafter, at least until 21st December when the whole bloody process begins all over again.
The Earth’s axis is such a jokester.