We are approaching Winter in Boulder (perhaps already in Winter, my friends can’t agree on an answer). The sun sets early in the colder months. I have mixed emotions about this. When the sun sets earlier I feel like the day is over sooner. Like I am meant to cut any plans short. But, it gives me more time to see the stars. I had my last final exam last night (one might say, my final final), and I got out at about 8:30 pm. I am not usually on campus this late, sometimes when I’m there until 6 or so I’ll look up to see if I can find any stars hanging around. Typically, only the moon and sometimes mars and maybe a few stars are visible. But, yesterday when I looked up there were so many visible stars. Now, to be clear I mean so many by my standards. Living in a place with a lot of light pollution and not a ton of visible stars, my standards are pretty low. But, sometimes at home if I go out onto our dock at night and look up I can actually see stars. Last night was like that, but maybe one level up. I don’t know if some people can just see the night sky and just shrug and move along, but I don’t have that ability. I’ve written about it before, but I get entranced. I even managed to find a constellation, for once.
So today my friends were showing me some pictures of the holiday lights that are up all-around Boulder. They must have gone walking or something. They are on the trees, buildings, everything. They are different colors. They make the Boulder night look like a glowing fairyland. I think it’s interesting how our species does this. We take this thing, the night, which we are programmed to be wary of, and light it up with beauty. We capture the stars and wrap them in strings around our homes and plants. There is this giant star made of lights on the side of one of the mountains. Whenever I see it, all I can think of is how much work it must take to put it up every year. Or maybe they just put it up once and leave it off the rest of the year, but it was still an effort, however they did it. And, as far as I know, it serves no purpose other than to be beautiful. Humans do a lot of terrible things, but we also manage to create and appreciate beauty, and that’s a comfort to me. A star in the darkness.
Note: Maybe holiday lights contribute to light pollution, this is something I don’t know very much about, but please just let me have this one moment of optimism. Okay?