2017, denali, grief, seasons, Walking

A Walk in the Dark

Thanks to Daylight Savings Time I’m waking up early right now – I haven’t adjusted to my new wake up time. Rather than waiting for the alarm to go off this morning, I decided to just get up and take a longer walk with Denali. Although it was cold, it was a beautiful morning to walk in the dark. There were no clouds in the sky, so the moon and stars shone brightly. At first it sounded like it might be raining – although I knew it wasn’t – then I realized it was the sound of leaves falling to the ground. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that so clearly before.

We are used to walking in the dark. It’s been that way since early fall. Occasionally I’ll see something in the shadows that startles me, but for the most part we feel safe and comfortable with our morning walks. Sometimes Denali sees things too. I can tell because her head gets low and she starts “stalking” whatever she sees. This morning, however, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to her signals…

We were walking along part of the street that wasn’t well lit. Denali’s head went down. I glanced over and thought I saw a puddle, maybe a small pile of leaves. It wasn’t until she was almost nose-to-nose with a cat that I realized something really was there! The cat ran off, Denali tried to follow, I held her back and started laughing. I said, “Well, that’s one way to get our hearts going!”

I don’t often pay attention when Denali notices something because in many cases nothing is there. For example, we have been walking along in broad daylight when all of the sudden her head goes down. I look ahead and see that, yes, there is something in the road. She’s convinced it’s an animal or something worth hunting. As we get closer, I realize it’s a shoe or bag or piece of paper. Once she realizes it’s not alive, she plays it off, just looking around like nothing happened. I don’t blame her – I’d be embarrassed too 😉

Our morning walks are a good time to pay attention – to the sounds around us, to the animals hiding in the bushes, to the cars heading off to work and the ones just getting home, to the students walking to the bus stop, to the quiet neighborhood waiting to wake up. I notice that some houses have one or two lights on while others are still completely dark. I have to watch where I’m walking – leaves, puddles, sticks, trash cans.

There are lots of shadows on our morning walks. Some turn out to be nothing. Others are best to avoid. Walking in the dark isn’t very scary when I’ve got Denali by my side. I don’t think I’d enjoy walking alone in the dark – in fact, I doubt I’d even try. But with a good companion everything is a little more enjoyable. The shadows aren’t as scary. The path isn’t as treacherous. Walking in the dark isn’t so bad when I’m not alone.


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