Light-emitting diodes have obliterated the moonlight. Oh, you can still see the moon, but it casts no shadows because the new(ish) streetlights are so obtrusive. They save energy, they save money … but I don’t feel any safer. I feel barraged.
When the LEDs were first installed, my brother said that I would cry when I saw them at night. I didn’t cry, just pushed it aside. But it’s a full moon now, and this morning, before sunrise, the lovely orb drew me out-of-doors and into the relentless harsh glare of their efficiency. It was unnerving.
At least I’m not alone in being sad about this. See, for example, “Ruining That Moody Urban Glow,” by Lionel Shriver, October 17, 2015. From experience, I know that the writer doesn’t choose the headline, and this headline is misleading: it’s not just about mood, it’s sleep and health and maintaining some connection to the sky and the rhythms of day and night. It’s birds and bugs who fly in disarray, and frogs and turtles whose mating and birthing patterns are disrupted.
But there are people actually doing something about it. Much like the lag that happens when I have to bundle up in scarf, coats, gloves, and boots before taking a walk in the wintry cold, it took me awhile to find them. The International Dark Sky Association and the Zoological Lighting Institute, among others, are working to understand and explain the effects of lighting, and change the ways that we use (or abuse) it.
Fact is, the brightness and hue could be tempered, which would benefit we humans and the other critters who live here, too. More research to do. Meanwhile, here are nine meditations on the chill, and thrill, of Winter. Love, Cat
Images and text © Catherine Rutgers
This piece was written on December 14, 2016.