Here is a little story inspired by blog reader Colleen who was fascinated by a recent comment about some of our inky black nights in the woods. You can’t see your familiar hands, your feet, your journey to the mailbox.
(Now that the moon stretches into her fat belly every night it’s like soft lamplight amplified by the gleaming of stars. Except when it’s snowing, and the firmaments hide themselves behind clouds pregnant with heavy white maternity robes.)
Early November—Night surrounds pitch black. Cold shocks as you tentatively walk outside. No illuminating moon. Your aim: the mailbox, down the winding driveway. At first the porch lamp lights the way. You step cautiously as dark envelopes.
You clear the garage and now you’re by the cattail swamp, the deep ravine filled with raspberry and blackberry skeleton plants off to the right. You’re in no-man’s land. You can’t see anything but inky darkness. Your eyes strain to see something, anything, tree limbs, shadows, but you’re blind. Your feet feel driveway gravel. Your feet almost know the way to go, this way, that way, a little over here, a little over there. Your shoes crunch dried plants you know grow in the center of gravel.
And now—ah ha, great triumph! Your feet strike asphalt. You’re on the road, in blacktop land. Your mittened hand clutches that stamped envelope…where now is the mailbox? Your hand reaches out where it should be. Nothing. Air. You step this way, that way, your hand waving blindly in the darkness.
Coyote howls a distance away. You shiver. You won’t be afraid; you won’t scuttle back to the house without reaching that mailbox which you know is here.
Your feet discover blacktop’s edge. You must be close. Now you’re afraid you’ll ram right into the mailbox, but there—right here!—it’s here. Your hand opens the mailbox flap, gently deposits letter, moves red flag into upright position so mailman will know booty lies inside.
Far away the porch lamp gleams, a solitary light in inky blackness. Coyote barks again, closer now. Your feet step surer now, not because it’s easier to see, but because you’re heading home. You’ve found the unknown. You’ll surely find your way home again.