Monday, September 03, 2007

What happened to my night?

I was taking the Sunday Times down to the recycling bin at the end of the driveway tonight when a sad thought popped into my mind. I'm never outside during the night any longer. Sound silly? Hear me out. During that 2 minute walk across the front lawn to the driveway I heard a cacophany of crickets, the hum of cars on the Merritt, voices across the street, and the croak croak of frogs. Now that I'm old and grown up and responsible I'm just not outside at night.

When I was 10 and 11 my parents would let us play up the street at the Bedard's house on Pinetree Drive. My pal Annette and her older brothers and the Simmers and the Podells and the Eichins and the Beautings and we Rossi girls played kick the can and jail break until I heard my Dad ring the cow bell attached to our house. "Come home!" When I was 16 and 17 the night provided cover for slipping away with boys and kissing and drinking. The dark was our friend. At 21 and 22, out of college, working, free, the night meant rowing out to islands off East Orleans with Meg and our friends for bonfires. At 27 and 28 and 29 night meant late dinners out with Mark.

And now? Night means glorious bed time. The exhaustion of the day is over. A few peaceful moments when I am not writing, not caring for children, not cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, shopping. The day to day chores of life. I'm out briefly, dashing to the car after dinner out to get back home to the babysitter. Closing doors and windows. Locking out the sounds of night. Replacing them with the hum of the AC and the whir of a ceiling fan.

I miss the night. I must get out into the night. Maybe I'll take out the neighbor's recycling next?

10 comments:

Stephen Parrish said...

I had the same experience with nature. I had grown up in a very rural environment (practically raised by wolves) but lived in towns and cities all of my adult life. Camping did the trick.

amanda said...

There is a certain tranquility about the night, particularly those solitary moments when you can be alone with your thoughts and the stars...fleeting as they are, they boost the soul to carry on the madness of life. Why do you think I put the compost bin a good walk away from the house? "Just doing the bins, back in a sec" and I'm gone for 10 blissful minutes!

Teacake said...

I walk (or when I'm feeling ambitious, run) at night after my kid goes to bed, half an hour a few times a week. It cuts into my writing time and I am always too tired to go the whole time I'm lacing up my sneakers, but it's still worth it, especially during those seasons when it's dark, or nearly so, already. Nothing beats nightsounds for putting everything rattling around your mind into its place.

Kathryn Johansen said...

This is why we walk around the neighborhood at night. I feel like I can finally let out all of the unsighed sighs. The only way I get to do it is to put my son is in his stroller. He loves the nighttime, too. We call it our midnight ride (even though its about 7:00).

Kim Stagliano said...

ACK! I live on a horrible street - very busy and leads right into the wrong side of the tracks. No nighttime walks here. I could sit on my deck. It's just not the same as spontaneous games and parties and fun that happened to take place at night, you know?

Trish Ryan said...

Isn't it funny when you realize things like that? Cool post :)

Michelle O'Neil said...

I have stretches where I get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to work on my memoir, before the kids get up.

It's still "night" and there is something magical about it.

I miss the night too.

The Anti-Wife said...

It's not just the night I miss, it's the freedom that went along with it when I was young. Now I feel so weighed down by --- responsibilities.

Kim Stagliano said...

The last time I was out at 1:00am I had Bella in my arms and was carrying her to the car from Bridgeport hospital - she'd broken her arm the first night we moved into our house. I did not notice the crickets. I was looking out for muggers. 1:00am in the middle of Bridgeport is not entirely pretty.

Alex said...

Like Stephen, I grew up rural (in Tennessee), and vividly remember spending summer evening catching all manner of creatures (the vast one-night haul of toads placed in our above-ground swimming pool is still told of in whispers). I live in a city now, but I worry that my sons will miss experiences like that; night means the end of the day, not the change to a new world. Will they ever know the joy of spotting a frog's eyes reflecting in your flashlight beam?