As I tried to convey with my post about cities at night, I believe there is something very special about the hours of darkness. I like walking in general, but a walk at night still holds a certain fascination for me.
Being outside in the dark has a freeing quality to it, I would almost call it spiritual for lack of a better word. The hours of darkness are usually calmer and so it’s easier to hear yourself and your own thoughts. You get time to think when you look up at the infinite starry sky.
Sometimes there is a unique nightly air, something that goes way beyond atmosphere, because you can really smell it as well as feel it. What makes the night so mysterious and appealing as well is that the darkness throws a cover over familiar places. They are familiar and yet strange at the same time and I find that infinitely fascinating.
Now I would like to share some of my memories of special nightly atmospheres I have experienced.
We went on a short holiday in Denmark to celebrate my fiancé’s mother’s birthday. We were living in a holiday house not far from the beach and even though there were some houses scattered around, the vast majority of landscape around us consisted of fields and meadows. At midnight we started to celebrate my mother-on-law’s birthday by going outside and lighting some fireworks. After they subsided it was quiet. Quiet and dark. The darkness seemed to close in from all sides and at the time I felt how potent the absence of light can be. That was a strong moment.
This was one of the very few times I came home after midnight. I had met up with friends to watch The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and the film kind of set the mood for the whole evening. Slightly off the normal path. We then went to a family restaurant and had Italian food until past midnight. I had never missed my last train home, but that day I did, because our Japanese friend had a car and offered to take all of us home. The drive home was strange. I only knew the way next to the railway, so all was unfamiliar, especially so at night and on top of that there was thick fog everywhere. It was such a bizarre mood. And then we were stopped by the police.
This has never happened to me before and it was all quite intimidating, even though they were friendly. I didn’t quite know what was going on. I thought anything could happen on that foggy night. They let us drive on. Our Japanese friend then explained that the police were looking for some criminals that were driving in a similar car and they were four people, just like us. And still we drove through the fog and darkness. I was dropped close to my hostfamily’s house and I hurried to get in. Truly a night to remember.
On my year abroad we went on a few really amazing field trips. One of them was to Mount Koya and we stayed in a temple with monks. In the evening some of the group went for a walk. It was dark, but there were some street lights scattered about to light our path. The atmosphere was clean and free. But the place is also famous for hauntings… And I believe I have seen a ghost standing in a turn of the road… Then again I caused quite a fright, I think, as once I wandered off and found a playground. I sat down on the swing right away and started swinging. Then I suddenly see my teacher running, actually running, towards me, telling me: “You scared us so much! We thought you were a ghost!”
Hometown with friends
After finishing school we all had quite some time together before we all went off to our respective Universities. We often met up, stayed overnight at each other’s places and often also walked around our little town at night. I can’t describe a special evening here, I just remember that this nightly time was and still is very precious to me.
My grandparents have a little hut in the forest, where they spend most of the summer. When I was younger I spent a lot of time there as well. And while it’s all great and sunny over the day, the nights are something truly special. You can sit outside on the terrace next to a fire, listen to nightly noises and breathe the slowly cooling air. It can be scary as well, sitting in the hut when a thunderstorm rages outside or you hear shots in the forest. But the dark still has its way of playing with our imaginations.
When I was around 10 my cousin another girl from the “forest settlement” and I wanted to spend the night in a tent on their premises. The others started telling scary stories and even though I tried not to listen, the damage was done. Suddenly I see something and say: “I just saw something move outside. It looked like a head.” The others tell me not to talk such rubbish. The next moment there is a light from the outside and through the tissue of the tent we see a figure with raised arms come towards us. We scream. It turns out that my grandma wanted to check whether we were alright and allowed herself to play a little trick with the light… I’ve not been too fond of tents ever since. It was quite terrifying.
Do you have some memories of the night? Please feel free to share them by commenting. I’m looking forward to some interesting stories and anecdotes!