Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The ashy pudding of proof

A couple of years ago, we posted about the legendary Dark Day of May 19th, 1780. On that day, a pall overtook New England, hastening thoughts of the Apocalypse in the minds of many. By late morning it was as black as night, and barn animals, confused, proceeded to their nightly slumber although the day was yet half over. Whittier's poem "Abraham Davenport" takes up the narrative most effectively:
'Twas on a May day of the far old year
Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell
Over the bloom and sweet life of the spring,
Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness....
"Birds ceased to sing, and all the barnyard fowls
Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars
Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings
Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died;
Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom blast of the trumpet shatter
The black sky.
One of our readers, Matt, pointed out a great new article in WIRED Magazine online that outlines the events of that dread day in history, and finally offers some evidence that backs up the widely accepted theory that the cause of the Dark Day was in fact a mammoth wildfire in Canada, whose effluvium spread far and wide with shocking effects.
In New Hampshire, wrote one person, "A sheet of white paper held within a few inches of the eyes was equally invisible with the blackest velvet."
Along with dramatic quotes from New England witnesses, such as seen above, the Wired article provides links throughout the text to a comprehensive series of articles about the event from varying sources, making it a terrific resource for those of you who, like myself, cannot help but be intrigued by this anomalous happening.

Click here to read the Wired article, and click on the links throughout it to find out more!

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