Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Walk at Night

On a moonlit night I stepped out of the cabin and went for a walk. I paused for a few moments at the bottom of the steps to wait for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. The moon wasn’t yet full, but it was close enough that the forest was filled with its silver shadows.

The night was still, calm, warm enough for mid-May. I carried no flashlight. The moon was bright enough. A ways off, I heard a deer step across leaves on the forest floor. The foxes called to each other, one close, the other very distant.

A walk through the woods at night always makes me feel a bit adventurous. Civilization seems far away. Sometimes I feel as though I could just keep walking and end up anywhere, miles away maybe. Somewhere in the next county or the next state, perhaps.

The moon is high. The stars are visible, if dimmed by the bright moon. I stay to the trails and woods roads. Those little open spaces let the moon shine into the forest and make the night bright enough for me to walk without my own illumination. I stumble on an unseen rock, step carefully over a downed tree and eventually reach a pond where the open water allows a clear view of the night sky. To the north, I see the lights of the city, miles away yet still very bright. To the west, I can follow the outline of the darkened ridges, sweeping away into eventual obscurity.

I find a log and sit on it, watching the sky and the night. Nearby, a Canada goose grumbles a brief warning to other geese, then quiets. I try to think no thoughts and let my mind reach out, away from the small thoughts of the day, to the distant stars. I watch the moon shine into the pond and spread its light into its depths. Be still, I tell myself. As still as the pond, as still as the moon, as still as the stars. The trees whisper among themselves, a different song of stillness. Minutes pass, an hour. The stillness remains, feels no time passing. For a few moments, I feel that timeless stillness, too. It is enough. The cabin beckons.


Lynne said...

This is a beautifully written, lovely post Carolyn. This would make a great stress-busting meditation.

Jennifer said...

Beautiful meditation! Made me feel still just to read it.

Carolyn H said...

Lynne and Jennifer: I wasn't thinking of a meditation when I wrote it. It was just about the walk I took. When I'm not looking at lost of things, like I am during the day, I tend to focus on sounds and what I can see. Night has a way of paring off a lot.

Carolyn H.

nina said...

I love nighttime walks near our pond.
And you're right--the darkness lets you focus better on sound--it's a neat experience and transforms a place from what we're used to, to something very different.
I feel like a foreigner, sometimes, in the world of night.