The Matriarch and I went out to the town yesterday. We seldom go to town and I was home late. Well, 4.30pm but the winter dark comes early. No-one minded. No animals minded anyway. They all eat hay and there was plenty of that left out for them to munch during the day.
Sheila was up on her pins again.
Doing the chores on a moonless night with no wind is kind of charming actually.
I have never been afraid of the dark. In fact I kind of like it. It is like an airport, teeming with activity but you feel anonymous and unseen. Ghosting your way through the avenues of air. Even when I am walking through the house in the night to put wood on the fire, or refill my glass with cold water- I never turn on lights. I pretend I have a secret radar that can guide me through the rooms and as long as SOMEONE does not drop his shoes right in the middle of the room, I can navigate smoothly. Maybe I am getting a little old for this game but there is no-one there to SEE is there?
It is the same on the farm. I walk through the fields and around the barn, listening carefully for where the animals are. Moving confidently through the dark using my memory as my eyes. And there is always a little sound. And as I am quite deaf in one ear, from a long ago smack to the head, I actually do cock my head and lean forward slightly to hear. Down, I will say, the sound gliding down as soft as a cotton thread, to the dogs. My voice drifting down to my feet where they drop their bellies to the ground. Boo always touching my foot. Boo is always watching me. Ton always has his head directed straight at the animal in question. Watching the stock. Even when I have not told him who the animal we are questing for is. He is watching her.
Wait, I say. And we are all still – listening. Sometimes the animal I am checking on also stands still and listens and as my eyes clear I will see Aunty Del not far ahead, stock still, head on the side – listening to ME breathe. Her eyes liquid as she slowly blinks.
Or Sheila her ear askew, watching me with her grey shining eye. Sheila has grey eyes. Poppy has dark brown ones, did you ever notice that?
I can stand for a long time in the dark and just feel what is happening, listening with my skin and my ears. I bet you can too. Moving in the darkness unseen is an old ancient trick. It is in our memory somewhere. ‘Under the cover of darkness.’
The dark has a seamless quality. No end or beginning. Like snow that blankets everything white, night recreates everything equal into the dark. Making small spaces huge. Tiny insect sounds become loud. The images are indistinct, misty.
Often the animals go out to graze in the dark. Not the pigs or the birds. But the cows and the sheep can be heard ripping up the frozen grass, chewing, swallowing, stepping. Especially on nights like last night, where everything is still and cool.
Sometimes I don’t want to go back inside – into the light, where I am exposed. Where I have to put on my INVOLVED face. Sometimes I would like to stay outside, hunkered down in the dark. Unseen. Unthinking. Just still.
Good morning. The sun tried yesterday but never made it. Maybe I will have to go to New Zealand to see some sun.
Tomorrow we are going to hitch up the stock trailer and pick up Queenie our beautiful Hereford cow. She has been with the bull for two full cycles now and she showed no signs of coming back into heat this week. Which is a good sign. So home she will come. She might be bred. God and all the angels willing. Keep touching wood though. I have contacted the Lady Vet and hopefully in the next few weeks she will take blood and we will see.
I hope you all have a lovely day. A lovely day.
Your friend on the farmy
I too love the dark and as I go to shut up the chickens at night will often just pause at the bottom of my garden and just listen. Living out in the country there are no lights to hamper my view of the stars and no traffic to impede my hearing (like you I have partial deafness, but in both ears due to a nasty virus caught on a plane coming back from the uk!). Each season has a different sound, different smell and I am sure if someone just picked me up and plonked me down in another season i could tell which it was.
I do hope queenie is with calf! Poor girl has probably forgotten how great her home is, please spoil her a little from me!
Yeah, Darkness … our national (monopoly) electricity supply company is rapidly sinking into 3rd world obscurity due to lack of maintenance over the last 20 years, so we are currently experiencing a lot of load shedding (sigh). Darkness holds no fear for me and I can navigate around my home easily, changing electric fence and electric gate batteries in the dark not so much fun. Rant over.
Really looking forward to having (a pregnant) Queenie back on the Farmy, hope she will make friends with Elsie soon. Laura
My friend on the farmy is wise and poetic. This post reads like a poem to the night.
I don’t see well in the dark, but I never put a light on if I get out of bed – as you say, we feel, we see with our skin and our inner sense of place
Your comment about having to put on your “involved” face really nails down the comfort of being in the dark.
I always walk up the stairs to my flat in the dark – my friends think I’m nuts! It will be nice to see Queenie back on the farmy for Christmas – I hope she’s pregnant 😉
when I find it necessary to go to the loo in the darkness of the night I always manage in the dark. If I had light I would wake up and then not get back to sleep. Its an instinct to touch the chest of drawers, follow along , open the door and finally return to my bed the same way. I think that our instincts are heightened during the dark, like animals we know where to go.
loved your tale of wandering alone on the Farm….love as always
years ago, when i had healthy knees, i used to walk a lot at night all over the steep hills on my farm.usually without a flashlight, or use one spareingly, batterys were a luxury item on my income back then.
sometimes when the ”cousins from hell”,that live out of state in flat areas, were here, they would accompany me.they never understood why i would not trip over limbs, step in mud puddles, ect with no light.or just moonlight.
i never told them that ralph, the old border collie i had back then would walk in front of me when there was obsticle, all i had to do was watch the white ring of fur on her neck to know what was ahead. but when it was clear walking, ralph would be off chaseing the big scary monsters, or chipmonks,possoms ect away.
i no longer able to walk at nite like the old days, and current dogs are black,so i can’t see them after dark,and they are not as smart as old ralph was
Welcome back Queenie.
I never put on lights in the middle of the night. It wakes you up too much, and besides, my night vision is very good. My echolocation isn’t so great – like you, I’m pretty deaf in one ear, so I can’t ‘hear’ where I am so well. I like the cool immensity of the night, especially when the stars are sprinkled across the sky like diamond dust and the air smells of flowers… but maybe that’s a tropics thing. Perhaps your night smell is the barn, or the smell of snow coming – I remember that well.
I am a little afraid of the dark. Especially outside at night. Inside my house at night I never turn on lights. Outside…a flashlight is my friend. However, I love a thick foggy day. That is when I feel invisible, calm, thoughtful and magical all at once. 🙂
Your words on darkness are wonderful and comforting, as is the dark night itself.
A beautifully poetic piece.
I, too enjoy walking in the dark and don’t turn on the lights if I get up at night. Actually, there is usually more light than one might think in the city anyway, and I could wish it to be darker. Glad Queenie is coming home.
Oh, you make the dark sound soothing – but for me it is filled with fears and discomfort. You see, while you are hidden, so are other things, things parents should never say, like “evil things” to make you stay in your bed. “Monsters” who will take little children away. Then, living near the BIG CITY of Dallas, when you wake in the morning, you hear of all the evil things done during the night. Shootings, home invasions, robberies, car jacking…. yes, they happen during the day, but when you have the ‘evil lives during the dark’ thing drilled into you by parents and grandparents, you know more of these instances happen in the dark.
Maybe it is time for me to address this fear I have……
On a more happy topic – Godot looks so ethereal in the barn light. He could represent your angel at the manger this Christmas….
And I thought I was the only one that played that game on the dark. I think of it as a challenge to find my way around by memory and an always so proud when I make it. Seems so silly, but I’ve done it as long as I remember. Shoes out of place though…they have thrown me numerous times. 😉
C. this piece is written with such elegance I hate to speak and break the intense deep magic.
“like an airport, teeming with activity but you feel anonymous and unseen. Ghosting your way through the avenues of air.”
“Moving in the darkness unseen is an old ancient trick. It is in our memory somewhere.”
“The dark has a seamless quality. No end or beginning. Like snow that blankets everything white, night recreates everything equal into the dark”
All the words chosen build just right. Sometimes we write and sometimes it’s more – something seeping out through you.
HAve you noticed those who cannot take silence that is not really silence or face the wide deep darkness. It makes some very nervous – some afraid.
What you have here is old old knowledge – it may be genetic or environment raised or or that some life has made more receptive.
Here’s a fine piece for an publishing somewhere – an essay (but wouldn’t remain hidden for long among others) or an introduction to a book.
Almost a metaphor for life.
(At our farm, there was no electricity for a long time – too far for the company to reach with lines, so no lights. (No one had generators, luckily) So I was lucky to experience nightly dark. I always relish standing in the mountains far away from others in darkness..it seems warm and while large, not overwhelmingly big – if that makes any sense. Oddly comfortable. There’s something about facing deep darkness. )
(Oh, if you need a quick laugh hop over for a second for some chicken pictures from a local farmy. Might be an idea for visiting children to play with? MAde me laugh)
(and I meant what I said about the power of this post)
Your writing is lovely. I adore it when you find the words that ebb and flow in a cadence like waves. There was a sentence in the book I was reading last night – “Let your ears be your eyes.” As you do in the night.
Yay Queenie! Fingers crossed. As I walked this morning in the dark-ish (streetlights every so often), there were four shapes on the street, white tailed deer crossing from one side to the other, just silhouettes. They moved on as I got closer as I’m sure the grass was greener on the other side of the street…ha
I like the dark too, walking in the early mornings, smelling breakfast being cooked here, cigarette smoke there, maybe the scent of the fabric softener sheet in the dryer exhaust somewhere else. Quiet and peaceful, a good way to start the day.
Just touched wood! 😀 I’m looking forward to seeing that fluffy Queenie back where she belongs. I too love the dark and often walk around West Cottage, Park Farm, and the fields with the torch turned off listening for muncjack deer, foxes, and badgers, and watching the snowy barn owls flying around. It’s one of my most favourite things to do. By the way, wrote about the treatment today…one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Thank you so much for your love and friendship Celi.
You have it Both .. Veronica.. brave lady! I shall go and read. Can you leave the link here with us veronica.. sometimes it is hard to find your blog.. c
http://veronicaroth.com/cancer-well-talk-never-mention/ here it is. ❤
thank you darling! c
Another lyrical reverie to still and soothe my soul. Thank you, dearest C!
You do weave magic with your words C!
I used to love walking in the dark, but following several falls due to blackouts, I now prefer to have a light to guide my way. When daylight fades and the sun heads for bed, my body goes cold and I dare not go in my bedroom, otherwise I might give in and slip under the covers. I do not give in, instead I turn up the lights close out the outside world and concentrate on indoor tasks. Toes, knees and fingers all crossed that Queenie’s return brings good news for the future.
I had lights installed in my new show chicken barn. The few times I’ve had to check the birds after dark and turned on the lights, they perked right up. “All right, then,” they say, “party time!” They jump down off the perches and then I’m faced with chickens on the floor when I turn off the lights. Sometimes I just give up and leave the lights on and let them party all night.
Have you ever noticed that you can see very well in the dark…I mean without a flashlight or any light at all? Actually seeing with your eyes? The only time we (Terry and I) ever really use the flashlight is if we have to change water….it’s really rather important to not fall in the water as we work. But mostly we just use our eyes and like you say all of our senses.
As always… This is beautiful writing C! I love the sounds and scents of an inky black night outdoors that you’ve described so perfectly!
We city folks are at such a disadvantage–never seeing the stars and yet never seeing blackest night. A pity.
Well, to be absolutely honest I have distant street lights in the front [where my bedroom is] and park lights at the back but 30-40 metres away so there is a soft gentle glow from both sides. Haven’t been sleepwalking in the countryside around but surely do not put on any lights at night – love the romance wandering around when all is a perfect darkish quietude!! Dunno about wandering around barns and things . . . 🙂 !!
Wonderful Celi! I’m still waiting for the sun 🙂 our summer is slow to start.
The way you feel about dark, I feel about rain. Nothing makes my soul so happy. We have a couch on our front porch, and I will sleep there when it rains, snuggled under a pile of toasty blankets. And I always mourn the passing of a storm. I will keep my fingers crossed for our Queenie Wineti!
I have good night vision too and especially like creeping around our house and land in Spain in the dark! Figners crossed for Queenie 🙂
Yay, Queenie’s coming home! May she bring good news with her. I could feel the darkness, hear the subtle sounds right along with you.