No matter how busy I am or how many tasks I have ahead of me, news of an update on Neil Peart’s personal website always stops me in my tracks and enthralls me as I sit and digest his discourse in one sitting. Granted, this is not War And Peace we are talking about here, but Peart is quite generous with his prose and it may take me 30 minutes or perhaps even more to digest it all.
This most recent update on Peart’s site is a bit more amusing than others, though I won’t spoil it for my fellow followers of his site. Suffice to say that the final photograph actually made me laugh out loud as I sat here alone in my home office.
Like Peart, I am also a lover of nature, although I don’t indulge myself as enthusiastically with as many solitary journeys through the woods as he obviously does. I live in the woods as well – a very deliberate and conscious decision on my part, one that my wife has happily come to appreciate as well. Although as any married man would know, the decision to live here was not mine alone, and I’m happy to have an understanding and generous partner in life.
My isolation does not compare with Peart’s cabin on the lake in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec but I’m happy to be shrouded among the trees with no view of neighboring homes during the summer months when the trees provide a welcome curtain of green that affords us the privacy that the vast majority of the modern population does not seem to crave.
Peart’s latest update chronicles his determined quest to track down an unwelcome intrusion that has made itself well known in a landscape that is otherwise dominated by the creations of mother nature. In the words of a famous (should be infamous – sorry, Neil!) U.S. President, “I feel your pain.”
We enjoy dark skies here as well, despite the dim glow of the more populated areas to the south in Massachusetts. The view of the Milky Way and other heavenly bodies from our property on particularly clear nights can be awe-inspiring, however, to my northwest, I also endure my own “eye of Satan,” in the form of a neighbor who insists on illuminating that area of the horizon with a bright white light – the kind you might see in a shopping center parking lot.
Although he does have some equipment related to his business on his property, our experience in this neighborhood suggests that crime is virtually non-existent, so I am at somewhat of a loss regarding what he fears that inspires him to spoil a nearly perfectly dark night sky every night of every year.
In fact, the previous owner of our home had installed his very own “eye of Satan” at the end of our long driveway nearest the house. It is more of an orange color, but no less obnoxious and intrusive on an otherwise dark night here in the woods. One of my very first acts upon moving in was to hit the “Off” switch on that evil eye, which was set to come on automatically at nightfall. I don’t know what inspired the original owner to install it. We have not had a single problem with any vandalism or other crimes in the 10-plus years we have lived here. Perhaps he wished to light the way for the local critters who do not enjoy the superior nighttime vision of the owl or the red fox.
I too have contemplated various ways to re-darken our sky, but beyond the fact that my unwitting antagonist would most likely replace the light easily, civilized behavior does not really allow me to indulge my occasional fantasies about how the eternal white light might be extinguished. And what little I know about my neighbor’s personality has convinced me that he’s not really the type one would consider “approachable,” so any polite requests to turn off the light would most likely be met with a terse denial, with a few profanities added for emphasis.
Recognizing that my own writing does not hold a proverbial candle to Neil Peart’s, I readily acknowledge that readers who have paused here may be losing interest, so I will sum it up by directing fellow fans, and just about anyone else who appreciates nature and fine writing to visit Peart’s site for his most recent update.