A Different Street
Yesterday I wrote about streets in faraway places that I loved walking. Last night I took a quiet walk on the street I live on to get reacquainted with the night sounds of early spring. I marveled at how alive it was. Not Royal Mile or La Rambla alive (for only a few streets are, really) but small New Hampshire town alive.
I’ve walked less at night than I once did when Bodhi was with us and eager to leave his evening mark on the world. The habit went with him when he passed. Habits die unceremoniously, one day you’re on track and the next something comes up and, well, there you are with time gone by and no momentum in the old flywheel. But last night the restlessness rattled the lid just enough to get me up and out.
Walking out into darkness requires adjustment. Your eyes? Naturally, but also the rest of your body adapts to a new environment. I felt right away that perhaps the coat was a little too light, the gloves not quite heavy enough for a slow walk but adequate for a brisk walk. I set about briskly, taking note of aches and pains from moving the house back to order after yet another renovation project. If social isolation has done anything positive, it’s given me the time to finish a long list of somedays. On balance I’d rather have the world right side up but there you go; upstairs is almost like new.
Glancing up, I’m startled by the brilliance of Venus. She’s been making a fuss for some time now but goodness I felt someone changed her bulbs to LED’s last night. She scolded me for not being outside more, and ignored my long list of excuses. Venus has heard every excuse you know… she turned her attention back to Orion as he slowly brought the hunt relentlessly westward and downward beyond the horizon, where all the dancers go eventually. He’ll be back tonight, we can only hope we will be too.
My attention turned to the other night sounds. The Great Horned Owls were having a long conversation about dining options or what to name their first hatched or maybe “look who decided to get his ass back outside“, I don’t speak enough owl to know for sure. All I know is they were animated – passionate even. Owl talk faded as I walked on and other sounds took over. First were the peepers and their nightclub mating chorus. Then the train whistle from miles away, sounding much closer in the cold stillness of the night. And when the whistling stopped the metallic sound of wheels on tracks continued for the duration of my walk. Why hadn’t I heard the wheels before? What made the night so still? Pandemic of course. There simply aren’t other sounds filling in; no cars humming by, no motorcycles in the distance, no dogs barking in neighborhoods in between. Even the owls and peepers seemed to be quietly listening. Nothing but the train wheels, the cold night stillness and me.
The coat didn’t feel too thin by then. Briskness warms, and my legs kept their pace as my mind lingered on the stillness of the night. My mind was clear again, and turned from night sounds to plot twists and character development. My mind chewed on making magic for many steps more and I finally turned up the driveway and turned out the lights, leaving the street a little more still. One last march to close out March. This street, like so many streets now, more still than usual as we turn the calendar to a new month. Like the train and the peepers and the owls, I’m looking forward and thinking of what’s next. Venus smiles down and recognizes the folly in it all.
It’s ironic how wildlife benefits in the case you describe. Our pandemic could be blamed on mankind’s squeezing of its habitat, previously in balance, now pressuring and exposing humans to a more desperate population (pathogens) looking to survive. It’s truly war, but who’s fault? Who will “win”?