Coco is a venerable dog. 13 years of age. Too old to chase chipmunks or hop after frogs. After all of these years hopping on only three paws she is a tired dog and can’t always keep up with a fast-paced world. However, even though Coco is not young–or perhaps because she is not young–at 10 PM, before turning in, she needs to go out one more time. A nightly routine. Same as humans. I know it well!
Slowly we make our way to the door. She is partial to the front door. I follow close behind because, on occasion, Coco, disoriented, wanders into the swamp, a chilly immersion in the midst of winter. Within moments, Coco, swallowed up by the dark, disappears and I am left on the front porch. Shivering. Somewhere, behind the row of junipers, I hear her rustling. Then there is silence.
My world is a black tabula rasa. I experience a strange feeling, knowing that there is life nearby but I am unable to see. The branches of the birch bend in the breeze, the ice covered lake cracks as cold expands the surface. Across the road Elgar and Pokémon wait for a breakfast of hay, and several feet in front of the porch a newly shoveled walk stretches out to the driveway. But I am blind to the space around me. I am in the dark.
A legend: When Adam experienced his first day on earth, the light of the sun illuminating Eden, he rejoiced. Then there was night. Adam’s first night. Daylight had vanished and a trembling Adam wondered: “Is this all there is? Would light ever come back? Only one day? Not sufficient!” How could he know? And Adam was afraid.
Those who dwell in reality may scoff at Adam’s fear, but the myth may not be absurd. Many of us occasionally find ourselves consumed by darkness, physically and metaphorically. We cannot see what lies ahead. What has happened to the morning?
After several minutes, straining to discover light in the midst of night, I noticed a solitary beacon flickering at Point O’ Pines, although the camp was deserted. A sliver of moon cast a subtle ray on the ice near the brown boathouse. And, as I looked into the sky, I discovered the constellations: Capricorn, the goat, its horn clearly visible; Leo the lion, ready to snare the goat. Perhaps the constellation Orion, the Greek hunter, would seize the lion before damage could be inflicted. And, foremost among the inhabitants of the night sky, the North Star beamed brightly.
Light! Specks of light!
As time passed, I acclimated to night and began to feel comfortable in my environment, in Coco’s environment, for now I saw her shadow under the crab apple tree where frozen red berries still provided a meal for House Finches and Blue Jays that did not migrate south.
It was then that I realized I could be at home in the dark. Eventually I would see. I was content. Relieved, I realized there is always light to be found, even in the midst of darkness.
Soon Coco would return.
Soon morning would come.