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Darkness

January 27, 2019

 

Bayou-Diversity (27 January 2019)  As a species we have never liked the darkness of night.  For several hundred thousand years we have retreated to caves and other shelters, huddled closer to blazing fires, and shouldered a heavier burden of anxiety soon after sunset.  Predators real and imagined lurked in the shadows; denizens of the spirit world had their way after dark.  Everyone had stories of bad things that happened when the vital sense of vision was rendered impotent at night.

 

Nothing much has changed today for most people.  In Louisiana where many are familiar with our forests and swamps, the idea of being in their midst at night without an artificial light of some sort is not appealing.  Even with the rational knowledge that predators of humans no longer exist here, a survival memory deep within our brain still tugs us back to the symbolic campfire.

 

In the same vein, natural sounds made by nocturnal animals elicit unique feelings in humans.  Haunting calls of great horned owls and the hell-borne screams of barred owls can produce terror in otherwise stoic individuals.  Exposure to the other-worldly cries of mating foxes has caused frissons of goose-bump laden emotions.  All contribute to our wariness of darkness.

 

Consider that as creatures of light, humans are in the minority.  Most animals, except birds not including owls, are partially or completely nocturnal.  Where we are uneasy, they find succor in shadows, perhaps sensing that this is the time when we as apex predators are least likely to be out and about.

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