A Pleasant Spring Evening

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, April 9, 1914:  Ruth and I have returned home after escorting Carrie back from where she came from. It’s awful nice out. The moon light makes it almost as light as evening.

Source: Wikipedia

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

A moonlit walk on a pleasant spring evening. . . What a lovely way to end the day!

Carrie Stout was a friend of Grandma and her sister Ruth who lived on a nearby farm.

Something doesn’t seem worded quite right with this diary entry. Grandma wrote that it was “almost as light as evening”–though she must have meant the daylight hours.


37 thoughts on “A Pleasant Spring Evening

  1. Sounds nice! I popped out in my jammies to place the trash curb side tonight and it still seemed warmish. Maybe because we’ve been used to below zero for so long. We used to walk home from neighbours in the dark all the time at the lake. Sometimes we’d have a flashlight and then you’d see the odd bat flying thru the beam…eeeek. Once one was so close, I fell down and skinned up my knees. That looked nice Monday at the office 😀

  2. I wonder if she meant to say the moonlight makes it almost as light as day? Regardless, it sounds like they enjoyed their after dark walk on a lovely evening. 🙂

  3. I imagine she meant the difference between late night and the time just after the sun set, dusk as someone else mention. I like how she didn’t just plain say ‘We walked Carrie home.”

    1. She did have a descriptive way of putting it. “Escorting Carrie back to where she came from” makes it sound like Carrie was from somewhere far away, when really she lived only one or two farms away–though it probably felt longer than that at night.

  4. I am certain it was very nearly a full moon she saw in the southeast. My planetarium software took me to that date in OH and showed it shining bright at about 8 or 9 pm.

    1. Wow, I’m amazed that there is software that lets you see what the moon looked like a hundred years ago. It sounds like a lot of fun to be able to re-create what the moon looked like on various dates in history.

    1. Interesting. . .I tend to think of evening as being a little later, but based on the diary entry and other readers comments, it obviously means different times to different people.

  5. Funny how we differ in ideas of “evening”. To me it is the time after dinner before it is totally dark. Even after sunset, it is still light enough to walk down the road and see people and animals before it is totally dark (depending on if there are clouds in the sky or if you can see stars and moon). Twilight or dusk are nice terms to use for it too as some others have.

    1. I never thought much about it before today, but I now realize that it’s a very vague term. I think of evening as the time between dinner and my normal bedtime.

  6. Finding an almanack from 1914 might releave what phase the moon was in that night. This would influence how much light the moon would be providing, assuming that on a pleasant April night there were no or only thin cloud covering. A full moon in the country provides lots of light, with the moon rising opposite the sun and reaching its zenith at mid-night. A waxing quarter moon would be rising at 9 p.m., possibly too late for a stroll to a home a couple of farms away, though your grandmother seems to be a night owl from prior diary entries. Of course, as waning quater moon rises at 3 a.m. Both quarter moons would offer suffient light to qualify for “almost as light as evening”. That would be memerable (both a pre-dawn stroll and the amount of light). Cresent moons (waxing following the sun and waning preceding it) do not offer much help as dust and dawn are still pretty much in play at that time. Find that almanack and discern what a party-animal your grandmother really was!

    Ah, ha! April 10, 1914 was a full moon, thus it was really bright
    Amanzing was you can find on the internet!

    1. It’s interesting how the moon rises at different times depending upon the part of the phase it is in. And, thanks for the great link. It is amazing what you can find on the internet. 🙂

      1. While I knew about the phases of the moon, general times for rising and setting, etc. from natural history classes, until we moved to the country & really observed this on a daily basis, I did not understand the phenomenon.

        Here is how I remember it: a New Moon rises witht he sun (6 a.m.) and cannot be seen because the sun is too bright. A Waxing Quarter is a profile of the moon, rising when the sun is high in the sky (noon). A Full Moon rises as the sun sets (6 p.m.) A Waning Quarter is a profile, rising when the sun is on the opposite side of the earth (mid-night). The Quarter Moons’ “profiles” face the sun. Cresents Moons occur closer to the New Moon. Gibis Moons occur closer to the Full Moon. That should put you to sleep at night!

  7. Grandma’s references to the time of day would be somewhat different than ours a few generations later because of changing connotations and useage over the decades. For. xample, the word “morning” in the time of Jane Au. en (1775-1818) in English society, generally meant from just after sunrise throughout . e day past noon until tea time-about 4 pm. The same word in Nautical terminology, ” morning watch” refers to a much tighter period of 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. but modern Americans might say it is from when they wake up until about Noon, because we have adopted the term “afternoon,” which has become much more frequently used than say 100 or 200 years ago.
    In terms of Evening, my impression was that Grandma defines the word in a similar way to my dictionary, “the end part of the day, from about 6 pm, or sunset if earlier, to bedtime.” (Oxford English Reference Dictionary, 2003). In Grandma’s era, especially since she was in a predominately agricultural area, the rhythms of the sun and moon were much more influential over people’s sleeping and waking hours, so bedtime was dictated largely by nature and the needs of the farm. So that would lead me to believe that night-owl Grandma (I can really relate to her here) meant that they were out so far past the normal bedtime and the brightness of the moon was so surprisingly intense that it looked more like supper time than the middle of the night. For what it is worth, many older people will call then evening meal “supper” and the noon meal “dinner” but the last two or three generations often seem to assign those two words interchangeably to the evening meal and differentiate “supper” as a casual meal with casual food and “dinner” to mean a more formal meal and fancier fare, whether at home or in a restaurant. Changes in usage fascinate me, and the comments make it clear there are regional and social differences that affect usage just as much as time in evolving our language.
    The website with the historic moon phases is a great link!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to research and share this wonderful information. It fascinates me how words change over time.

      Over the years I’ve found the term “dinner” to be confusing and stopped using it. When I was a child, my family called the noon meal dinner. Now, as you said, people often call the evening meal dinner. I end up never know which meal dinner refers to. So in our family we now have breakfast, lunch, and supper. 🙂

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