When it is dark enough, you can see the stars

This weekend we attended the Battle at Hovander Farm, our 2nd Civil War reenactment event. It is put on by the Washington Civil War Association, and we’ve found them to be a very friendly and welcoming group. One thing people may not realize about the civil war (and about military activities in general) is that women were active and often welcome participants. Many served as nurses and laundresses, but there were also women who donned uniforms and fought for their beliefs. Some did so disguised as men, but some were known to their comrades as women and accepted. The modern world of reenactment is even more welcoming to women interested in exploring the martial aspects of their interests and genealogical history. We were ‘recruited’ by both Union and Confederate units, marine & artillery. Talking with people who enjoy not only the historical aspects of their ‘hobby’ but also the physical recreation of the past is inspiring, and their love of what they do really shines forth.

We’re constantly researching how our ancestors lived and farmed, and looking to integrate these traditional ways into our everyday life. Our ancestors were survivors, and learning what worked for them and why may help us navigate tough times now. One helpful aspect of reenacting historical times is that the ‘gear’ involved is generally functional. It has to stand up to being used, not just hung on a wall or placed in a cabinet to look nice. We bought a simple candle lantern of a fairly common style at the event, which will complement the oil lamp bought a few months ago.

This fall, starting with the Autumnal Equinox, we’re planning to use as little electric light as possible after sunset. There is accumulating evidence that artificial light can cause major health problems in mammals, and at very least disrupts our sleep patterns. Some researchers say that artificial light at night can even cause cancer. Obviously, candles and oil lamps are still artificial light sources, but they are much less disruptive than an incandescent bulb. And somehow the darker rainy evenings are much more pleasant in the warm light of a lamp or lantern. Here is a fascinating account of one family’s experiment in living with less light that I can’t wait to duplicate in our own way.

Another beneficial effect of having less light at night is that it will be easier to step outside and enjoy the Perseid meteor showers this week. The Moon is just a couple of days past new at the shower’s peak, so there will be no moonlight to interfere with the faint meteors. The shower should reach its peak in the hours after midnight (before dawn on August 13), with a maximum of a few dozen meteors visible per hour.

(The title of this blog post is a quote attibuted to a number of people – Charles Austin Beard, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Waldo Emerson, and more. Whoever said it, I like it!)

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