Night Walk: Part II

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 At first, the cold air has me withdrawn into my coat, but as the trail winds on I slip out further from the hood, a rabbit leaving it’s burrow.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.

Night Walk

Free Bing Photos

Free Bing Photos

We think splitting an atom is the most powerful thing we humans can figure out or do. I’d argue breaking a habit is. Without focus and discipline changing habitual patterns isn’t just difficult it’s nearly impossible, because the very nature of a habit is you don’t have to think about it, you just do it. This is great for driving to work in the morning, but if you have a habit of eating too much or never giving yourself nice things, it’s a problem not a help. Of interest, however, is inside our well-worn habits is the power of celestial black holes. When we break out of them it’s a bit like releasing the energy of a quasar. This, of late, has become my focus. I’ve challenged myself to break a few of my own.

Tonight I went for winter’s walk. I often step out onto the deck and think I should walk the neighborhood before bed. The air is crisp and clean and it always feels like there’s magic in all that darkness. Invariably though, I talk myself out of it with such pressing matters as there’s lunch to pack for the next day. I’m in cozy socks. It’s late and I have to be up early. I decided tonight I would make a different choice. On death beds all over the world are millions of people lamenting the night walks they never took and the sunsets they forgot to appreciate. That shall not be me, I decided. I left on my cozy socks and slipped on my sneakers.

The air was, as I expected, crisp and almost electric. Christmas lights dot almost every house and as I walked along the lake the colored lights lit the water. I heard the geese commenting on my passing, more than I could actually see them. At this hour, there is so much quiet that the subtlest rustle of leaves could be heard. I held my keys, as even their jingle in my pocket seemed a marching band. What I think may have been an owl flew over my head as I stood on the bridge that crossed the creek. The coyotes in the field beyond the houses announced the start of their night hunt and I listened to them yelp for several minutes before moving down the path into the wood.

To experience the night, it’s movement and its odd manner of light; stars, a crescent moon, street light reflections, is to awaken something truly mystical in your soul. I am certain it was this mystery that so often whispered to me as I stood on the deck. A mystery in me I can only feel when I walk in darkness and allow the sounds of the night to move around me. There’s power in allowing yourself to be partially blind. To accept the way isn’t all that clear past the next few steps. That you can be happy in all the black uncertainty. It’s curious that when we meditate it can feel hard to silence oneself, yet take a walk along a deserted lane at night and it is as if your skull has become the most beautiful chapel, your thoughts saffron wrapped monks bowing to the moon.