It’s cold, dark, and quiet. I can hear the gravel crunching under my boots with every step. I glance upwards to see the silhouettes of bare tree branches in the night sky. It’s early still and I am out before most people wake up. Stirred by bit of insomnia and a quest for solitude, Ava and I begin our 2 mile morning walk.
Soon my walk becomes darker as the road bends and trees shift from mixed hardwoods to a collection of softwood trees. The Fir and Spruce trees, with their branches filled with needles, diminish the amount of moonlight that reaches my path. The increased darkness becomes paired with a gentle cold breeze that sends a chill through me. As I continue up the road, passing the old logging path on the right and then the entrance to the hunting camp on the left, an uncomfortable feeling sweeps over me. The darkness and the cold has transformed my peaceful morning stroll into an eerie hike into the unknown.
The woods thin out on my left and my eyes are drawn toward to the clearing. At first I don’t see anything, but then my light catches the reflection of a pair of squinty eyes out in the darkness. The eyes seem to stand about six feet tall. They are steady, persistent, and look back at me. My mind races to identify the owner of the eyes. Maybe it’s a cat . . . no a raccoon . . . a deer . . . a bear . . . a werewolf . . . a monster . . . a hatchet wielding maniac.
“Ok, slow down and breath”, I say to myself, “these horror movie marathons you are watching are not helping right now”.
I soon recognize that I have engaged in a staring contest with the eyes in the darkness. We are locked in battle to see who moves first. Ava, who has become bored with this part of the road, finally tugs on the end of her leash. I lose my balance, stumble, and look away from the eyes. When I regained my footing and look back into the woods, the eyes are gone. Our encounter is over.
Coming to terms with the fact that the eyes had slipped back into the woods, Ava and I continued on towards the end of the road. As we walked, I contemplate the idea that even in the darkness of the early morning on a deserted road you are rarely ever completely alone in nature.