I woke up about 5. I was rested because I had read and gone to bed early. Ashok snoozed quietly, and the light of the moon illumiated the meadow. The stars twinkled softly in the dark sky. Wow. I am most certainly in heaven. I started to roll over, but had a fleeting fear course through me. “What would I do if I knew I would never be here again,” I asked myself.
I dressed in the darkness, leashed my dog and made my way to the car. With no lights and no cars this early, the roads were pitch black and quiet. It would have been eery if the moon and the lights twinkling in the valley below didn’t provide an anchor of normalcy. The road wound over and through. A deer looked up from its nibbling. It started, but then stayed put. This is my home. You are just passing through. Don’t bother me.
I busied myself making coffee and a yogurt and grape nuts breakfast with a juicy South Carolina peach. The headlamp was too bright but necessary for the task at hand. I imagine Ashok on her blanket was wondering what the hell we were doing sitting in the darkness but patiently trusted my plan. We were camping after all. All the rules go out the window when you take each step as you encounter it. Routine is for home.
The coffee warmed me. An owl called across the mountain. A lone car whizzed past. Darkness enveloped us but for the light of the moon, ebbing and flowing as clouds floated by. The stridulation of crickets was deafening. A barred owl called. My dog relaxed. I was still.
The twinkling lights in the valley promised life. A young woman awakes with her baby’s cry. A dog barks to be let out. A man, once again, wakes up with a pounding hangover. I have to stop this, he thinks. Shame washes over and begs for more. Lovers giggle after a long night together. They gaze out the window at the moon and long for it to linger. An old woman reads her Bible and prays.
A hint of light to the east silhouettes the trees on the hillside. The stars begin to subside. A songbird chirps. Then another. The owl goes silent. The evergrowing light shifts the landscape. What was dark is now light. What was light disappears. A soft azure and orange sky grows in intensity and then fades into blue. Mountains, moated with haze, come into focus. The world, seeming small an hour ago, boasts of infinity. Songbirds explode into song as the new day dawns.