Do you really think, child, that shadows simply go away when the sun sinks below the horizon?

Far from it.

As bees must gather nectar as a bulwark against the leanness of winter, so too must shadows be gathered for the fast that is nighttime. For darkness and shadow are two different things, and those that repast on the one will find no succor in the other. And the lean and sickly shadows cast by mankind’s lights are a thin gruel of a substitute.

They are the shadow-gatherers, you see, and they steal unseen upon the dusk, taking the shadows which are no longer needed as the red light fades to darkness. Casting no shadow themselves, the gatherers are nevertheless a key part of the great cycle of darkness and light which binds together our world. They are, not unlike the bees, content to go about their duties and are rarely dangerous unless disturbed.

But we are disturbing them.

The shadows have grown weak and poisonous in many places, and the powerful lights of mankind confuse the shadow-gatherers and draw them into feeding on the awful artificial shadows cast by mercury vapor. The brightness of the dark also leads the gatherers to waste their energies at night with no strength left to face the dawn.

One interferes in the affairs of bees at their peril. We do so now with the shadow-gatherers; it remains to be seen whether we will be stung.

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