Thursday, September 29, 2011
How To Be Brave on a Very Dark Night
copyright Vincent Jacques - Astronomy Picture of the Day
Tonight I had to get something out of the car so I went outside - in the dark. Though my night vision is deteriorating along with everything else, I can still see well enough to get around without a light. It is easier to not turn the porch light on because it destroys my night vision and casts only a small circle of mostly useless light - usually more of a hindrance. Most of the time I have no fear venturing out into the night but there are exceptions.
If I have recently seen scary movie previews, I hate going out in the dark. I stopped watching frightening movies after I saw The Exorcist, decades ago. I was 20 years old, and a parent, but I slept with the lights on for over a year! When I am outdoors at night, movie scenes can come vividly to mind. They scare the bejeezus out of me and I hate it. So I avoid the hack and sack movies, the paranormal thrillers, the true crime movies and television shows.
When I stepped out tonight, the ol' Dukenator was right there as usual. His eyes and ears are far better than mine. If Duke is not concerned or barking at things I cannot hear or see, then I am confident and unafraid. If a human being was coming through the darkness, Duke's barking would be frantic and unrelenting. I know because one night a neighbor boy came to the house for help. I knew a human was approaching from the moment he stepped on the driveway because of Duke's extreme barking. I admit I was relieved when I finally recognized who it was.
Duke has been barking almost all night, every night, at coyotes slinking around. I have seen them in the yard during the day the last few weeks, too. Duke chases them a distance from the house and they always yield to him. However, they just cockily lope away. They know he is not a threat. They could gang up on poor old Duke and take him down, but they do not. They are fairly civilized neighbors except for their belief that my chickens are their chickens. Things have been quiet the last two nights, so the coyotes must have moved on for the time being. Duke is worth his weight in gold, many times his weight in gold. Actually, Duke is priceless.
Another frightening situation that gives me the creeps despite my best effort at bravery is the screech owls calling. Sometimes they are in the trees around the house and they sound just like crazy people laughing in the dark - loud crazy people. If you have never been outdoors alone on a moonless night surrounded by unholy cackling and bizarre laughing, you have not been sufficiently scared in this lifetime. That does not happen very often and I am damned glad of it. I know the owls will not hurt me but it is simply chilling. If ghosts wanted to scare living people to death, they would laugh like screech owls. Sometimes I am not certain it is owls. Maybe it is a ghost or a whole squadron of ghosts. Ghosts have given me trouble my entire life so they might be posing as screech owls to harass me now. I do not do anything stupid, like running for the door, or cursing them, or telling them to shut up - just in case. I go about my business, outwardly cool as a cucumber. So far, so good.
The best antidote to fear is looking up to catch the immeasurable beauty of silver stars. To me they always look as if they were sailing past when caught in the black tree branches. That, more than any other reason, is why I do not turn on artificial lights. In the dark, I can see the stars in all of their exquisite beauty, for free, by merely looking up. I can brave a few ghosts for such a delight.