After Dark subtitled “Walking into the Nights of Aotearoa” by Annette Lees. Published by Potton and Burton. Price $39.99. Reviewed by Tony Orman
Night is as certain as day and it occupies half our lives. Many people don’t know or appreciate the night time but I’ve found through fishing and hunting, you can get to like and enjoy it.
In my trout fishing, as well as daytime stalking of trout in clear water, I do enjoy night fly fishing for trout. Much of it is done by touch and feeling and as subtle as the trout’s take of a fly often is at night, your senses get sensitively attuned and in rhythm with the night. Your eye sight adjusts even to the point of seeing and locating the surface rise of a trout.
I enjoy snapper fishing after dark too;. In fact the two biggest snapper I caught just on 18 lbs each were taken after dark on bright moonlit nights. But before the excitement of a hooked fish, I was at peace in the night air. I enjoy nights when I’m not sleeping!
Why shouldn’t a person enjoy the night?
After all, much of New Zealand’s wildlife is nocturnal such as kiwis, wekas, moreporks (rurus), moths, caddis flies, bats, wetas, mice, rats and others. Often after sunset, any daytime wind has died and the night is still and restful.
And above on a clear night, the stars and Milky Way are something to stare and wonder at. Then there’s the Moon.
Author Annette Lees is a conservationist and ecologist and in “After Dark” she enters into an intriguing world that involves mythology, social history and Nature. The author shares her experiences of the night and of nocturnally active people such as lighthouse keepers, ecologists like herself, trampers, navigators and others – and inevitably ghosts.
Some black and white sketches such as of moreporks, kiwis, wetas, a caddis moth, perhaps the moon here and there might have visually enhanced the pages. But once you’re immersed in the pages and the authors narrative, it’s a small point to cavil over.
The book is set out in chapters successively journeying from 5 pm to 4 am. As I delved into each chapter “hour by hour”, I found it increasingly absorbing and fascinating. It is a very enjoyable read. I heartily recommend you try it.
I remember asking DOC what they were going to do about establishing locations in Godzone as part of the International Dark Sky Places Program.
That was probably 15 years ago, and the answer (as with anything that doesn’t suit their narrative) was NOTHING.
At the time, there were several places in the South Island that would have been ideal – sadly slowly but inexorably light pollution is encroaching on them.
Let’s concentrate on World Heritage locations or better still establish Marine Reserves with sewer outlets in the middle!!!!
DOC – Department of Constipation
PS Stewart Island and Great Barrier Island are still recognised as Dark Sky locations