I love the night. The silver face of the moon, all those stars glittering and sparkling, the night sounds of the forest around us. I love them all.
In summer, I lie awake to breathe in the wet earthy smells of night, and in the spring I am enchanted by the singing of the “peepers” in the wetland. Even the crisp fall nights make me feel cozy by compelling me to close the window against the chill.
But the nights that come in the deepest part of winter bring another feeling altogether. January nights are like an animal, teeth bared and ready to pounce.
The other night I drove home from work through squalls of snow, my wipers working valiantly to keep an open view. The cloudy skies meant that the night was pitch dark, and where I live the streetlights are few and far between. The back roads were treacherous with black ice, and branches were dipping and swaying under the weight of the wet and icy snowfall. I crept along, seemingly an inch at a time, expecting at any moment to find myself off the road and in the icy woods. My heart was thumping painfully, and my hands had a tight grip on the wheel.
At last, at last, I turned into my own long, dark driveway and pulled to a stop. With a sigh of relief, I stepped out into the night.
The wind roared overhead, bending the pine trees all around me, making them groan as if in pain. An icy blast struck me straight in the face, taking my breath and coating my face with needles of ice. I gasped and bent nearly double as I dragged my work bag and purse out of the car and slipped and slid to the house.
This night, this fearful January night, held no magic for me. It was a wolf, ready to eat me alive, running swiftly behind as I reached for the door. I fell inside, slamming the door in the face of the beast, so happy to be safe inside, where the warm and happy dogs waited for my hugs. Where a fire was ready to be lit, where dinner would soon fill the house with comforting smells.
I love the night.
Most of the time.