NYCTALOPIA

Do you suffer from nyctalopia? It is that condition which makes it difficult for you to find your way in the dark or in the dim light. Basically, it is a condition we know better as night blindness. I wonder if that is why some people are afraid of the dark – because they are unable to see.

It is only in the last decade or so that I have felt comfortable driving through the countryside at night. I have even become used to the dimming of the light as day fades into the night, which used to be the very worst time for me to drive. Perhaps necessity helps one to overcome such adversities. A strategy I have learned while driving at night is to focus on the line on the shoulder of the road when faced with a stream of headlights. Moonlit nights are the best for driving and walking though.

I have always enjoyed the silvery wash of moonlight. Walter de la Mare describes it so beautifully in his poem, Silver:

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws and a silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.
This, incidentally is a poem I learned to recite for a school concert when I was about ten – and have never forgotten!

It must be a form of nyctalopia that makes it difficult for my eyes to adjust quickly from a bright light to the dark at night. That is the moment I step outside at my peril, especially if there are steps to negotiate – a fall waiting to happen.

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