Last night was the longest night of the year. Can’t say today is the shortest day, because day implies 24 hours, and that doesn’t change no matter what the season. But night means darkness, and it is dark this far north of the equator. It is dark for a long time. In celebration of the solstice, my running partners and I decided to light candles on our early am run on Thursday. Should’ve done so today, but we don’t run on Fridays. We run on Thursdays.
My running partners and I meet at the same early morning time, every Tuesday and Thursday. We run the same route. We run in snow. We run in the rain. We run in horizontal sleet. We run in shorts. We run in wind pants. We wear mittens. We wear sleeveless tops. We run in brilliant sunshine, and we run in the dark. Sometimes during a whiteout, it feels like we are running on a treadmill, and sometimes the ice makes for crazy footing. This habit has been referred to as
crazy dedicated by their respective spouses. We started running this route because I could bring my relatively untrained dog and not put her on a leash. Then, we kept the route because it is a halfway point. Even when there are only 2 of us, and when I could not bring the dog, we still ran the same route.
We stop at a halfway point that is also the highest point on the run. We stop. We take in a 360 degree view of the Snake River Valley, the Palouse, and Moscow Mountain. There were times this Summer when the mountain was not visible beyond a screen of smoke. We watch the velvet of winter wheat appear, and marvel when the Spring wind blows the green wheat into waves like the ocean. In the Fall we watch the sun disappear, and eagerly await its return about mid February. 2 weeks ago, there was just a trace of light in the eastern sky when we stopped at the top of the hill. We knew that on the longest night, there would be no light. We decided to bring candles.
Starting our run, there were the city lights of Moscow reflecting off a western cloud bank and lighting up the snow at our feet. A mile from town, it got dark. Then I noticed light in the eastern sky. Marveling at how that could be, I recalled that the sun comes up in the SOUTH east sky at this time of year. The light was in the NORTH. Then the green rays became visible. Aurora Borealis. Wow. The darkest night of the year was anything but dark. The light of Moscow sent us on our way. The light of Mother Nature pulled us along. The light of my friend’s faces as they lit candles heated my heart. We may be crazy. But, I think we’ll keep this habit.