I like to look out my windows at night. Late at night the dark hills are speckled with lights and you can see the distant ribbon of light in the valley that is the highway. Out our back windows, if you stand in the right place you can’t see any lights, just the darkness stretching to the horizon and a wash of stars. On moonlit nights, every tree and bump is outlined and you look for mysterious strangers slinking through your garden.
I am comforted by the silence and darkness, but now as I stand there I find myself wondering if the Jaeckels would have been frightened.
I can name many of the lights (a combination of gregariousness and curiosity) and anyone living here in the 1870s would have been able to do the same. That would have been a comfort, but also a reminder of their isolation – those tiny points of light in the distance. No wonder every small town is centred on a pub (or two or three.)