Bewitched from Alaska to Panama

Author’s teen-aged son lounges in a bright orange hammock surrounded by tropical greenery.
My son Ramey lounging in a hammock on our reconnaissance trip to Panama in 2017.

According to folklore, the witching hour is the time from 3 to 4 a.m. when witches, warlocks, and other demons are the most active. And, the most vengeful, malevolent, and rancorous. 16th century England had curfews for that hour to combat witchcraft.

Some legends point to the hour as spinning the time of Christ’s death upon its head. Christ, you may recall, died at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Hence, the opposite of Jesus, that being devils or other demons, party twelve hours earlier.

Bewitched: Truth Behind The Myth

The myth may have some bearing in truth: Medical researchers have pointed to our circadian rhythms often awakening around the witching hour, although the scientists may not refer to that time by the mythical term.

Personally, from mushing dogs without sleep for three days on end, I know that from 3 to 4 in the morning is the hardest time to stay awake. It is also the coldest hour out of twenty-four.

Chilly and hungry, despite better wisdom, I was often too exhausted to use my energy to eat.

The demons had put a spell on me.

More often, I make good decisions regarding food and rest. I am a staunch believer in following a schedule to induce deep and effective sleep. My wife and I retire to our bedroom night after night at around the same hour.

Immediately prior, I put our dogs to bed with a snack and some loving. Next, I make a pot of coffee ready for the on switch in the morning. Then I brush my teeth. Next, we read quietly in bed for at least a half-hour before turning off the light.

Despite such regimented sleep hygiene, I awake occasionally during the witching hour. Overly stressed about something — wayward children, fluctuating finances, perplexing partners — it is as if the witches with their potions and demi-gods with their tricks are working black magic.

The Witching Hour Can Manifest in Positive Change

And yet unrest can be the catalyst to great change.

How many entrepreneurs credit unrest or a failing for their determination to succeed?

Joe Biden credits his stuttering and the loss of his young family in a car wreck to his ability to weave deep compassion into leadership. He no doubt was awake for many witching hours on his path through Congress up into the White House.

Tim Burton, the mastermind behind Beetlejuice and other bizarre movies, credits his strange brain that is on the spectrum for his unique creativeness.

[I]t is as if the witches with their potions and demi-gods with their tricks are working black magic.

I myself used the unrest of the witching hour to my advantage a few years ago. Lying awake one night in the endless Alaska sun in the summer of 2017, I decided I wanted to move.


I would broach that with Ingrid the next day. I loved Alaska, yes. We loved our child who remained in Alaska at that time, yes. But she, my warm, talented daughter, had just cut off contact with us. My youngest Ramey was in treatment thousands of miles away and his therapist saw no way for him to be released back home if his father was nearby.

Moving to perhaps Panama, becoming an ex-pat, having Ramey complete high school in Spanish, and having Ingrid retire early, was a plan I hatched that night, during the witching hour.

Ingrid was stunned I would consider leaving Alaska behind. Yet, the demons had put a spell on me, and I would turn it to good.

Our exploration of making a life in a foreign world had begun.

If you like what you have read here, follow me in my weekly newsletter at I explore more about retiring in Panama and making the most of the 3rd Stage of Life, mainly through intentional living, finding purpose through new work or another avenue, and metabolic fitness.



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Melinda Miles-Lindberg

Melinda Miles-Lindberg

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