Step outside in the evening this week and you will be joyfully delighted by the spectacular night sky.
The moon has been rising late, which adds to the darkness of the night. The new moon was on Nov. 26. This column is being written in advance of that date and, but it is expected to be a very dark night with no skyglow. If the forecasted snow has held off, there will be an abundance of starlight — something best experienced when light pollution is at a minimum.
The local Dark Sky Coalition is raising awareness regarding this issue in the valley.
The town of Twisp actually has provisions in its zoning rules to protect the night skies with shielded light fixtures. But like many obscure rules, most people probably don’t know about them.
So, I am here to inform you that your outdoor lights need to be shielded so they only illuminate the surface they are intended to light, and therefore not “light trespass.” That means your porch light (or other lights) shouldn’t shine in your neighbor’s window.
The town’s recent installation of solar lamps conforms to this requirement. The lamps have shields that direct light down onto streets and walkways and prevent it from glowing upward. This is good step in the right direction.
Outside town limits, the light-up of rural homes is about to increase as second homes owners arrive for the holidays. In my 15 years of observing this valley, the twinkling lights that scatter the valley floor and foothills have noticeably increased, especially during holidays and long weekends.
Consider this a friendly reminder to everyone to turn off driveway lights and lights in unoccupied rooms during the evenings, so we can all experience the starlight we love.
The shorter days and long nights can take a toll on our mental health. Similarly, the holidays tend to be a time of year with spikes of depression or anxiety. Depression and anxiety disorders can happen to anyone, but one segment of society especially at risk is new mothers. One in seven new mothers and one in 10 new fathers experience postpartum depression or anxiety. Rarer, but often more hazardous, is postpartum psychosis, where new mothers experience psychotic delusions, hallucinations or irrational thoughts. Each of these conditions is treatable with proper health care expertise and support.
A new postpartum support group was formed in September to help new parents cope with these debilitating conditions. The group, led by Haley Brandenburg, meets the first and third Sundays each month at the Coaches Lounge in Twisp, located in the Gloversville Building across from the Methow Valley Community Center. “Not What I Was Expecting,” as the group is named, can help provide companionship and resources for parents experiencing this often isolating and fearful time in their lives.
The group is part of the Climb Out of the Darkness campaign, an event established to raise awareness and support for new parents who need mental health help. For more information about the local group, contact Haley Brandenburg, (425) 765-3337.