When I am coming home from work on winter evenings, the sky looks far too cold. All of the warmth and all of the colors have drained away. The bristling arms of the trees reach into the night sky in desperation. The wind aims for me, and the blackness of the woods is such a threat.
I hate coming home on winter nights. I hate the darkness of my driveway. I hate the brittle sound of icy branches clicking together over my head as I hurry toward the house. Like the fingers of giants they clack and snick and I can only think of icy blades above me.
On winter nights, I hate the sound of the wind in the trees behind my house, moving and sneaking through the frozen wetlands and coming too close. Coming for me.
When I come home on winter nights, I am in touch with all of the ancients who came before me. I know that they feared the darkness and the cold! That fear comes back, no matter what I tell myself. I am safe in my car, with my XM radio and my down filled coat and my automatic garage door opener. I am a modern, civilized, safe citizen of a well developed world. What is there to fear, really?
I am not sure. But whatever it is, it breathes on my neck as I creep slowly down the drive and peer into the woods that surround us.
When I am home, though, and safely enclosed within the walls of that house, I have no fear of the winter night. When the fire is lit, and the oven is on, when there is music playing and the dogs are sleeping on the couch, I feel secure and safe and supremely protected.
When I am safe inside, I shake my fist at the frigid night. I fear no clicking branches, no shadowed forest, no creeping silent predator. When I am inside, looking out, I welcome the winter night because it reminds me that I am sheltered and secure.
Tomorrow, though, I will have to step outside before the sun has risen.
All bets will be off when I do.