I picked my amazing husband up from the train station tonight. He had been down in New York City with his dad for a couple of days. The Amtrak station is about an hour from home, and his train came in at 9pm. Neither of us had been up this late at night for quite a while. It is a clear night, cold and serene. At home, when we stepped out of the car, I glanced up at the stars. WOW! I stopped talking, stopped moving, and just gazed up, mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of the crystalline night sky. That deepest blue black of outer space, and the millions of twinkling silver stars, so close you can reach up and almost touch them. My husband looked up too and took a few chilly moments to stargaze as well. I pointed up arcing my arm across asking if he could see the thicker band of stars. He replied yes. I told him that it’s the Milky Way. We are looking into the heart our galaxy, staring through all the other spiral arms between us and the center. That is why there are more stars in this band across the night sky. We are seeing space and time, eternally spiraling, spinning into the abyss of nothingness, filling it with pure light.
I have been sitting on the porch all evening, alternately listening to a book on my kindle, knitting, bird watching, reading old science magazines, daydreaming, or just gazing out over the road noticing how the trees are loosing their red and gold leaves and the hillside across the way is becoming more visible each day. The sun has set, daylight is fading quietly, darkness is slowly creeping down the hill around the house, silently seeping into the sir and sky. They twilight is cool and stills as the birds and chipmunks retire to their nests. The trees become dark silhouettes against the purpling sky, the first brightest stars appear as weak glimmers, gaining in brightness as the sky coalesces into darkness. The porch has drifted into dark shadow, soft caress of approaching night against my skin. A bird calls out, a single loud piercing short cry splits the silence for just a moment. It leaves its perch and flies into the darkness. I do not want to go inside. I would like to stay here and become this soft smooth night, be the blanket of calmness that brings slumber and dreams, swirl and twirl dancing with twinkling starlight, bathe in the moonlight, loving life and living in my misty dreams of infinite universe.
Dark night, mostly cloudy, with some stars shining through to reflect in the mirror still lake. The others are asleep curled in their warm tents. I am snug in my hammock, warm under the sleeping bag, and listening to the night. Small waves lapping at the racks on shore below me, an owl calling softly in the distance, a lone car speeding past on the state road across the lake. I am almost asleep, drifting halfway between reality and dreamland when a chilling cry echos across the water, a sharp yipping, high pitched barking ending in a yowl. I know there are no coyotes in the island, but they sound close enough the reach out and touch. I have to remind myself they are not on the island, the barking sounds like it is just off shore. They must be on the mainland a mile away, although I can hear distinctive barking and yipping from several individuals, the sound carrying across the water as clear as if they were next to me. Then as if answering the coyotes, the loons call out, joyous, gregariously, teasing, haunting tones mixing and blending with the coyotes. I listen for what seems like half the night completely entranced with the melodious music these night creatures are making for the pure pleasure of it.
On a warm summer evening, as the blue dusk of almost dark slowly deepens into the purple of completely dark, twilight in the west and twinkling stars above in the endless velvet night sky. I take a walk down the road, across the bridge to the overgrown field. Wearing long pants and sleeves to discourage mosquitoes, I stand on the edge of the road, gazing across the tall grasses, mesmerized. Thousands of tiny green yellow lights flashing near and far! Silent magical woodland fairies calling to each other in a language of light. I could watch for hours! Crickets humming, the creek gurgling, a calm breeze gently stirring the green plants, a distant dog barks twice, and fireflies everywhere with their glowing pixie lights. I am immersed in the effervescence, the bio luminescent glow, the magic of firefly light. Surrounded by these tiny flashing insects makes me feel connected and alive!
Once and a while, I have trouble breathing at night especially when I lay down. A variety of reasons has been explored, but it pretty much comes down to indoor allergies (we do have 4 cats and a lot of dust). I was in moderate distress and trying to stay calm because having an anxiety attack over it just makes it even harder to breath. My husband suggested I go sit on the porch to see if the fresh air would help. Stepping out into the darkness, my bare feet curled at contact with the cold floor boards, goose bumps prickled my skin, and involuntary shiver ran down my spine, but my lungs and sinuses wanted the fresh air. The hammock stand was in pieces on the porch, so (after going back inside and putting on socks and a warmer outer layer over my pajamas) I assembled it, then dug my camping hammock and sleeping bag out of the car where I had put it earlier that day in preparation of spending the weekend in the Adirondacks. All curled up in the hammock, toasty warm, gently swaying, blending into the nightscape, watching the narrow strip of stars visible between the roof line above me and the ridge line across the way, listening to an audio book, hovering on the misty shadowy borderline between wakefulness and sleep, not wanting to let go into that peaceful oblivion because of the enjoyment I was feeling floating here in the hammock being relaxed and breathing.
Driving home form yoga class, taking the narrow steep road the goes over the hill instead of the longer one that goes around it. Dark overcast night, cold and breezy, I am climbing up the hill, headlights illuminating the trees above me on the incline. I notice something large on a limb just inside the circle of light. I slow down as I get closer and the grey lump morphs into a barred owl. I come to a complete stop and turn off the headlights, leaving the yellow running lights on. I open the windows and turn off the radio. The owl silently watches my car. I am sure the headlights have temporarily blinded it. It sits on the limb contemplating this annoying human who has disturbed it nocturnal hunting. In the dark the world is all shades of black and dark grey. The owl is fluffed up against the chill and its white and dark striped feathers almost glow in the darkness. I am in awe of its majesty, its beauty, wildness, and mastery of the night. I want it to call out but all it does is sit, still and silent. After a few minutes, or seconds, (its hard to tell how much time passes when time stands still), it takes flight. Just a flick of motion, wings open wide, fluffy legs askew, swoop, swerve, and gone into the shadows of the forest, all in absolute silence. As I turn my headlights back on and continue up the hill I think about owls calling in the night.