On Christmas the snow had been more ice. It came down tapping the forgotten leaves of fall still hanging on the trees. Tap, tap, tap, but not like rain. More like rice thrown at a wedding, softly. It was the only sound I heard along the trail. Tonight, the ice now lays underneath and my feet crackle as I walk, but the night is much quieter under the fluffier flakes of this snow fall. At first, the cold air has me withdrawn into my coat, but as the trail winds on I slip out further from the hood, a rabbit leaving it’s burrow. The sad tragedy is we have too many lights at night and so it is never truly dark. The wonderful benefit of this sad tragedy is the city lights cause the winter storm clouds to glow. A ghostly sight of orange, gray and cream colored apparitions floating across the sky. I sometimes feel as if I have entered a surrealist’s painting, with the way shadows move at night. As a child, I remember standing very still in a wood, turning my head ever so slightly to make out the shadows along the wooded path I traveled for home. Now, there is so much light, it creates a very different sort of play of shadow both on the snow and along the horizon. Obvious and yet peculiar all at the same time.
The wispy clouds moving steadily eastward are only eclipsed in beauty by the two coyotes who dash across my trail. Unlike foxes, coyotes are not as curious about humans. A fox, if you stop to watch it, will often turn and watch you. Even moving a bit closer to sort you out. Not a coyote. They are wild through and through. It will be mating season soon and the pair travel close together. One almost as black as the night should be and the other like the cattails they run through across the frozen marsh. They stop deeper in the wood and watch me. Cattail doesn’t move and stares back at me. I feel, for some irrational reason, that he must move first. My breath sounds uncommonly loud standing there. I imagine he is listening to every breath, while I pretend to stand a statue. I realize he is much better at this and likely in need of a meal. I am delaying their night hunt, which given the snow may be more work and so I move on.
The night is always the same. It holds the same serene pace it always has had. No, it is me that changes along the path. I grow increasingly peaceful and in harmony with the night and the cold and the slowly falling snow. I wonder at times that I am alone. The nights are so beautiful like this and yet there is not a soul in sight. This possibly, more than anything, has drawn me out again and again each evening, no matter the cold. The night is mine and outside of my coyote friends rarely interrupted. So even as I am perplexed by man’s loss of interest in the mysteries of the night, I am as delighted as a child to have these snowy footfalls all to myself.