Midnight hikes and bonfires. Perhaps, it’s getting into my inner Neanderthal, but I always found something very soothing about taking treks in the dark and sitting by fires. Sure, someone told me I should do the trekking to show that I was on my way to manhood, and with my fellow boy scouts, I would walk, pack on back, song in head, and fear under control, through woods, highland paths, unlit roads. But, would I have found a reason to do somethings like that without the prospect of another badge on my uniform? I think so.
The dark is mystery, and in that is adventure. I was a boy and liked adventure. What’s that sound? Twig breaking or animal creeping up beside me? The other evening, I was taking out the garbage and heard rustling in some bushes near my house. I saw the shape of an animal, ferreting (really) in the leaves. I stopped. I peered. I saw the muskrat. Was it rabid? I don’t know. Was I afraid? No. Should I run? No.What for? I strolled on and entered my house. Hero! I know that my little daughter finds the dark more than a little scary. What is it about not being able to see clearly that unnerves us, even in places that we know very well?
Now, I understand the attraction of the bonfires in the night. We can see again in what had been deep darkness. It’s not the marshmallows on sticks, though that may be worthwhile. The smell of things cooking can be enticing. But, the warmth and light are comforting. We can often stay beside those burning pieces of wood much longer than we need, even sleep there. Outside. Exposed. In the real dark, but with the flickering flames giving light, or the dying embers reassuring us.
It may be purely spiritual to wander around in the dark and then to move to the comfort of the light. Interesting.