I believe in night. I believe in the sanctity and solitude that darkness provides. I believe in the hush before dawn. I believe in the tranquility brought on by a black sky dotted with faraway stars to sweep us away from our everyday worries.
I didn’t know I treasured the darkness of night, until I spent the summer solstice on the cusp of the Russian Arctic this year. It was amazing. It was beautiful. It was overwhelmingly hot and muggy. And it never got dark.
I’d been in St. Petersburg around the white nights before. In those times the evenings would extend to midnight, and about one a.m. a sapphire twilight would stretch across the horizons. For a few hours a deep dusk would hush the city before an enthusiastic dawn brought the day’s energy to light again.
In these times, a bit of twilight and brief cool darkness allowed me to embrace the anonymous security of night and find rest.
But this year in Arkhangel’sk the summer solstice stole the night. It crept over the clock and through the hours never letting the darkness of night descend to calm us. It held night at bay like the manic energy of sleep deprived college students seeping throughout the city. There was never darkness, only a sweltering hazy light flushed with cirrus clouds blushing from exhaustion. For 6 days I knew no night.
At the end of my 6 days in the north, I arrived in Baku, much farther south, I was peaked, clammy, sore and disoriented. Following the usual steps for the visa, passport control, luggage claim and customs, I stepped out of the airport and into the parking lot.
A wash of relief swept over me. Above my head there was the sweetest, most soothing sight – An orange haze of lights under a blanket of inky black darkness.
Away from the airport we slid through the shadows, I felt quenched by the dark desert air and knew I was unwinding at last.
Even now, months later, I believe in the restorative power of the cycles of hours. When each night descends, I exhale and know the peace that comes from night.
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