The Surprise In The Dark

The other night I walked the fifteen minutes from the main road to our house, carrying a plastic shopping bag. It’s a steep, winding mountain track.

It had been a while since I’d trod that path in the pitch dark of a moonless night. As I walked, I remembered the extraordinary peace of being alone in the blackness, in a completely silent place, under a million stars. 

The next moment I realised that of course I wasn’t alone. There were rustlings in the undergrowth: hare, badgers, or deer perhaps. There were the creeping shadows of trees. There was also the wild boar. He snorted loud in my ears, a noise something like the exclamation of a surprised pig. Then he turned a panicked circle in the undergrowth close by. I knew the great size of him by the heavy cracking of the saplings. They are big, wild boar, and can attack when they feel threatened. Instinctively, I struck at the plastic bag as noisily as I could. He orientated to where I was, and racketed away into the bush.

I am pleased to have stepped a little outside my comfort zone that night. My daytimes these days are spent wrestling with updating the technology that runs the Wild Words ecourse. The whirring, the rattling, the turning cogs of my overloaded brain drown out every other sound.

There is so much movement inside my own head at the moment, that everything outside seems still and dead in comparison.  No wonder we human beings get lonely. We think we are the only creatures living, breathing, moving.

Last night, my brain stopped still in the presence of the boar, and I re-connected with something bigger. And somehow, when I met the boar’s presence with the striking of the bag, I turned a little to face my own fear, and my world expanded, just a bit.

This article was first published on January 17th 2013