I know there’s no such thing as snowlight, but this time of year, it sure seems like there is. Before today there hadn’t been snow on the ground after dark, and with the days growing shorter, I’m feeding after dark in the evening and occasionally before sunrise in the morning. When I feed in the dark, it is very hard, if not impossible, to see bay or black ponies until they take hay out of my arms. Mud puddles are equally obscured – my boots were soaked when I came in last night from ill-chosen paths. This is the first time I’ve ever contemplated the advantages of a grey Fell Pony. Usually I dismiss the idea because of how dirty they would always look here with my dry lot and mud seasons. But they would certainly be easy to see during this darkest time of the year.
The darkest time of the year is usually assumed to be around winter solstice, but not here. That’s where snowlight comes in. Snowlight is the reflected light from snow on the ground; sources include stars, the moon, our sole security light, or the light given off by my solar lanterns. Around winter solstice, snowlight illuminates my feeding chores, unlike last night when the dark ground was combined with cloudy skies and falling precipitation so that there was no ambient light at all. I tripped on sticks, stepped in mud puddles and bumped into black ponies. I couldn’t even see the flaxen forelock of my silver dapple pony until she was nearly in my face.
You no doubt have realized that I don’t take a flashlight with me when I feed. I’m so used to having some sort of natural light – snowlight, starlight, moonlight – that when combined with my solar lanterns there is usually adequate illumination for my tasks. There are times when my husband feeds with me, and the flashlight he carries usually ruins my night vision so that I trip or run into things and somehow find things more difficult to see.
This morning was another matter. I decided to feed quite early because last night’s rain turned into snow after I fed. I was especially concerned about one paddock of two ponies that had a single shed with a narrow doorway; I wasn’t sure if they would tolerate being in the shed together with such a narrow exit. It turns out I needn’t have been worried; it was very cute to see both of them holed up in their little cave this morning!
Snowlight this morning before sunrise was a welcome blessing. I could take roll call of all my ponies because they were quite visible against the snow on the ground. Welcome back, snowlight! It’s good to have you. I’ll appreciate your assistance for the next six months or so!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012