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There is a low howl in the eaves and an increasingly smaller voice in my mind says, “Stay in”. My coat hangs by the door, ready. My boots neatly coupled together below. It is surprising how quickly a habit can take hold. In just a few weeks it is difficult, even in this bitter cold, to skip the evening stroll. I bundle up tight and step out into the low wind. The snow falling feels wet, but in these temperatures I know it is just the quickness with which it melts upon my warmer face. Though snow falls the moon is apparent behind a thin veil of clouds. The walk begins with the wind at my face and I consider just a short-circuit around the block. I come to the northeast trail and there is a man ahead of me. He does not turn, so I am not sure he sees me. He doesn’t have a dog and, at first, I am very impressed that he is out for a stroll, too. This lasts less than a minute before I find myself mildly disturbed by his presence. Yes, I, who only a few posts ago noted how stuffy we have become hole up in our houses at night. Inwardly I charge, “Who is this rogue to enter MY domain?” I laugh at my own contrariness, as I trail along behind him. There is a tree at this point that appears lit by a fire beneath it. The fence is too high and the slats too tight to see how the effect is achieved, but this snow-capped tree with a light flickering up its trunk is beautiful to behold. When I look back down the lane the man is gone, likely through a side gate, unless of course, he is a changeling. In which case, he turned into a wolf and slipped stealthily into the wooded creek bed to the south. I laugh, but keep my eye on the wood.
I am left alone for the rest of the journey and I breathe deep of the solitude. It is done. The night has spun its magic and I will not turn back now for home.
I am aware I am staving off aging on these nightly walks in a way I had not expected. A curious feeling has settled in. The length of the journeys grows and the time in the wood or field lengthens, too. I have yet to cross over to the lake beyond the marsh, but I feel it coming on. No lights are present on that larger patch of land. A hunger for greater levels of darkness, quiet and solitude has settled into my soul in a way that is difficult to describe. The moon has become a balm that settles a restlessness that so often roams the bony rooms of my head. I see the easy path is to remain inside where it is warm and enjoy cocoa while watching the Christmas lights out the dining room window. Yet there is suddenly a somnolence in that image for me; a story of a coming death.
The night is cold and foggy, while at the same time sharp and vivid. It is stark while blinding. Sound has a curious way of moving across a field or between the trees. Nothing moves, while everything moves, as shadows have a life in them. Like the owl and fox, the darkness stirs a wildness in me. A hardiness is seeping into my veins and enlivening my spirit in the most magical way. I find my heart picking up and even when my toes begin to complain of the cold another drift is upon me and I am calf deep in it. At no other time do I feel quite so connected to the life force of the Earth. Something primitive and deep stirs the moment I leave the threshold of my warm cozy den. Something so fresh and clean, I can taste it landing in the flakes upon my tongue.