Dorothy Harris

Dark summer nights can be a treat

We’ve been fortunate to have had a chance to enjoy these steamy summer nights recently. The family spent a dark, peaceful evening at the Hammock during the Howl at the Moon 5K.

The kids ran the race, while Mr. Harris and I took a quiet, fast-paced hike through off-road trails as heat lightning sparked in the distance and katydids and fireflies cheered us along. It was like a family reunion as we saw so many folks we know either running or supporting the event.

I was absolutely delighted to see people out after dark because most never experience the serenity of nature at night anymore. I’d ask you, when was the last time you were out in the real woods after dark?

Many never get or take this opportunity, so I encourage you to check out They are planning another after-dark event in the fall and if you’re someone who thinks it’s crazy to be out in the woods at night, I sincerely encourage you to take a risk and participate in one of these events.

Come join a fun group of people experiencing the amazing serenity of the Hammock after dark. We promise you won’t get eaten by a bear. Mosquitoes maybe, but no bears.

Another wonderful dark night included enjoying a friend’s pool as our daughter did some pet sitting. I was surprised to find their backyard had a small creek running through it, even though it was nestled within one of our local manicured communities.

As night fell, frogs began croaking and we found ourselves thinking we could sit out forever. Narrow-mouthed and southern toads trilled, as pig and bullfrogs croaked from the man-made drainage line. Listening to their music amongst the quiet, we soon heard barred owls hooting back and forth. We drew them closer by responding to their calls, something my daughter both loves and hates all at the same time.

“They’re like ghosts,” she says, when they suddenly appear on silent wings. We had no idea our friend’s home backed up to such delightful, peaceful darkness and it was a real treat to enjoy this special evening. As we headed home, we were even more excited to see a red fox on the golf course.

Around our own neighborhood, traffic noise is a low, but ever present sound when we sit outside. It’s not enough to annoy, but when we have a chance to be immersed in absolute silence once again, we find ourselves questioning our location. After having an opportunity to live within the state park years ago, we find the desire for similar dark and silence often returns.

Our neighborhood is never completely dark and the new digital billboards reflect light far beyond U.S. 27. Some nights we find ourselves questioning if we are seeing lightning or the ad change from afar. On cloudy nights, the lights from Lakeshore Mall scream light pollution, but provide unique viewing from our back deck as the illuminated clouds drift on by.

As soon as we decide these nuisances are bothersome enough to spur us to move, we take a leisurely walk around the block and enjoy the peace and quiet of our own community. Despite our close proximity to all the major conveniences, it is still a serene experience after dark. Trying to find the right balance between convenience and silence for our family often leaves us in the dark. Should we stay or should we go? We still don’t know.