Opinion

Eyes wide closed — Jason Hawkins

Jason Hawkins
Jason Hawkins

It is so dark that I cannot see. The moon’s reflections make the shadows dance and give hope to what appears eternally dark.

It is an early time of day. This day and journey will be long, and so I am thinking about all that surrounds me that I do not see.

For I am walking, and I am aware that I am walking alone and that it is cold and dark and still. The moon is a tease, and I wish it were brighter and that my steps were lighter, and I believe I am walking faster than I should and not as slow as I would, if it were light.

And yet this is the way of a hunter and an explorer and of those that find moments and points of reflection and purpose in this place outdoors.

I see the trees that I know; those twisted by storm and decayed from age and those that are succumbing to the earth in a fertile way and those whose limbs are like outstretched arms that appear to reach, within these shadows.

I see the rocks ahead and I know the coldness of their face and that my steps should be slow and soft and careful. And yet it is so very dark and I am stepping with such force that these rocks are loosed, and when one tumbles from this elevated ground, I spook and pause and my heart beats faster and my mind wishes to run, for I am certainly being chased.

And yet, in this darkness, in this isolated place that I course, where I sometimes slip and stumble and where the branches scar my very cold face and my ears are so very well tuned, I am content.

It is so dark that I cannot see. My steps are familiar and so is my grip and I am intimately connected to this tree, hoping my steps are true and my grip is strong and that my ascent is silent. Soon, I am settled here. All that was noisy and careless and startling, with each step of my human steps and from those chasing sounds of stumbling rocks, has abated.

Now, it is quiet. Now, instead of being the source of intrusion, I am part of the inclusion. For though I am human and a hunter and one that finds emotion in the moon, the dancing shadows and the bent tree that points the way, I am now hidden in this darkness, too.

It is so dark that I cannot see. But I hear the approach. It is coming from the east, it is moving purposefully and it is slow. And I can hear this movement, down the hill and my eyes are dissecting these shadows and the sky is pink now and gray and the sun is much slower than these steps and I hear the rocks in the creek. I know this sound.

I hear the water. I hear the rocks. I hear the steps, and then these steps pause. The sky is pink and red, now and the moon is a vapor of sorts and the pink is growing and again. I hear the steps. I can see movement, now.

I see the darkness of this animal. I hear the steps and see the darkness of its body and I am still with observation and wonder and surprise, for it is rare to see a bobcat so close and so undisturbed — and so I am still.

The creature pauses for a moment; it demonstrates a stealth and careful movement and it surveys, and in a matter of steps, it is from log to the ground and beyond a cedar tree and then it is gone. I listen as the steps of this bobcat disappear beyond, vanishing in the growing light from the day’s sun.

It was so dark that I could not see. And yet from within the darkness there were shadows. There were also steps and the sounds of rocks in a creek and from within this darkness a creature of the night. There are moments in these places outdoors that we cannot see. These moments bring the most wonder and these moments we remember most.

Enjoy your time outdoors.

You can reach Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com

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