I heard a strange sound in my neighborhood this past Sunday night. Voices traveled through the trees from all directions. Now and then I’ll hear someone else outdoors in my semi-rural, large-lot subdivision on a wooded ridge, but voices from all directions outdoors in yards, that’s new. It took a super moon, a blood moon, to make it so.
I hope most folks got to see this eclipse. It was stupendous — amazing, really.
The sky was clear and the temperature was comfortably cool. This eclipse started at a convenient time; it wasn’t one you had to get out of bed to see.
The changing of the moon before the eyes was spectacular.
I’ve seen partial eclipses before where it was a bit of a strain to recognize what was happening. This one was crystal clear.
A bright super moon, a full moon somewhat closer to Earth in its orbit, rose in the east. Suddenly, the bright and white moon began to darken on its north side. A black shadow slowly covered the moon, and then as the eclipse neared being full, Earth’s sunsets began to give the dimly visible orb a reddish-orange hue.
I heard voices on either side of my place, some from up on the hill, some from across the road.
The moon, Earth and sun pulled people outdoors. If we had a magical counter, it was likely a new record for the number of Platte Countians standing outdoors in their yards from 9 to 10 p.m.
Normally, we are so separated from the sun and moon, day and night, so that we don’t even know whether the moon is waxing or waning.
Heavy curtains or windowless walls can make any day like night. Electric lights that we take for granted, can make the night as bright as day in our homes, stores and factories. Mankind is free from sun rhythms, except when a rare moon pulls us outside.
Our ancestors would be surprised at how little we pay attention to day length. The coming shorter days of winter may dampen spirits for some, but we flip on the light switches and keep going.
Our highways in cities are lighted with powerful overhead lamps. Street lamps are standard fare in towns. Business signs burn bright. Headlights on modern vehicles are powerful.
We fear not the dark. In fact, for many it signals television watching time is at hand and all is well.
But it is strange how when we are cast out into the dark in unusual circumstances that the night is still challenging. I spent nine nights camped out at the big music festival at Winfield, Kan.
Night always caught me by surprise.
I knew it was coming. Dusk often found us relaxing in chairs watching the sunset, but when pitch darkness fell, I found myself uneasily looking for flashlights and misplacing various items I needed. You appreciate lights when they’re suddenly gone.
We are so used to living indoors that the outdoors seems exotic. Future generations, however, may feel differently.
A friend of mine just bought an older, simple house in North Kansas City.
A key selling point for this person was the ability to walk to stores and entertainment. The walking is on sidewalks designed and built for an earlier time when many families didn’t own cars or perhaps owned just one. Most people didn’t have air conditioning.
This person, in their late 40s, loves the fresh air and the exercising. Manufacturers are making wheelchairs and track chairs now that will go anywhere easily, so people rapidly approaching geezerhood, like me, may prefer the sidewalk trek to the store for groceries, too.
We can’t always count on gas prices hovering just above $2 a gallon, either.
What seems like somewhat average housing in Platte City near the retail stores at Highway 92 and Interstate 29 might be looked upon by future generations as the most desirable. The same could be for homes at Parkville near Highway 9 and Highway 45, or those at Riverside within a hike of the Red-X.
Maybe people in the future making an evening stroll to the store for a gallon of milk or bag of cat food will hear quite a few people talking in their yards, enjoying the night sky, or maybe voices from the screen porches in peak mosquito seasons.
What is new or seemingly rare is sometimes in highest demand. Future generations may wonder why we sat around indoors so much and wasted night air or morning sunrise. They may pay the biggest prices for homes with sidewalk and trail connections.
Builders and city planners are already leaning in those directions in efforts to be environmentally sustainable. A human desire to connect with the sun and moon may add to the economic profitability.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.