Nothing like a classic opening line to get the MONSTER juices flowing, so today my Monster Meditation is on the quality of darkness. Not all darkness is created equal — some darkness is simply scarier and it seems to hold the promise of mystery and mischief.
Ambient light erodes the depth of darkness in cities. It also hides the stars. I love the night sky in the countryside. A few years ago I was in Umbria in the late spring, staying at a villa up in the hills above Lago Trasimeno. (Believe me, I daydream about La Rogaia, the herbs outside my window scenting the morning air and the sky alive with stars at night.)
Far from any source of light, the depth of the darkness was extraordinary. Driving on a narrow road through the woods on the way back from Perugia, a porcupine skittered across the road — a scary sight when you’re inclined to let your imagination roam. What else lurked in those woods?
In October, the darkness caused by hurricane Sandy in New York, made my neighborhood a scary place. Each night of the blackout (for me it was five) I walked downtown from the “power zone” to the “powerless zone” and into the dark. It was creepy. My familiar corner was suddenly threatening. The ambient light of the city that usually fills the shadows was gone. Flickering candles, flashlights and emergency lights in windows, just created more shadowy figures. More fear not less! Inside was almost as scary as outside. Climbing the darkened stairwell by flashlight and hearing footsteps before seeing a neighbor emerging from the darkness above or below. It was a nightmarish commute up and down.
Moisture adds texture to darkness. The morning fog deepens the darkness near dawn. You can easily imagine a night creature hurrying home in a protective low-lying cloud. After a hazy, hot & humid (HHH) summer day in New York, the humidity turns the night into a backdrop for real and imagined monsters. It feels like there is a heavy theater curtain just beyond your reach. In the dry cold darkness of winter, drops of rain hit the freezing cold air and turn to snow. It is a lovely sight — until it’s not. Snow, in the city or countryside, can be sinister at night. It hides — everything.
All darkness is not equal, but all darkness is home to MONSTERS!