he middle of the night comes early in November.
It is with disbelief I hear the announcer on the radio state “it is thirty-seven minutes after the hour of five o’clock.” Aside from questioning the necessity of the “o’clock,” I am simply astonished that it could be so early and have been dark for so long. It is a dreary, rainy afternoon with no flaming sunset to stave off the night but, still, long dark at five thirty?!
The good news, for those as obsessed with the daylight as I: The sun will set only nine minutes earlier before it plateaus out in December. The bad, of more immediate concern, news: “Tomorrow is forecast to be much cooler than today.” It is soggy and dark; it has been blessedly mild but November will soon be waning like the moon that will rise behind heavy clouds five hours into the night.
The lots that were yellow with goldenrod are brown and gray — silver on sunny days — and the deer vanish in remnants of fall. They are everywhere this time of year, at night standing by the roads, their eyes flashing with reflected light, and often, especially in the near dark that comes too early, giving the impression of dogs. The paths they have worn through the brush, the ones that disappear behind green leaves in the summer, are beginning to show, surprising sometimes, so close to the road, winding from the side yard out into the field.
The deer seem always to be there, big ears poking up, all that is visible until they become aware of my nearness and turn, flashing white tails as they bound into the brush. They don’t go far at all, seeming to know there is no real danger.
The leaves are falling, more and more houses are empty, there is less traffic, and deer travel more in the fall. I hit one, once, on the Neck Road, where they often crossed and where, I did not realize until that night, I slowed without thought. The deer rolled on the pavement, got up and walked away; the only damage to my car was a broken plastic cover on a directional signal. I try to be more careful now but were it not for those eyes in the night, I am not sure I would notice them until it was too late.
There are leaves on the roads — autumn, dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, or would were they not plastered down by the rain.
It is a line that has always bothered me, this reference to a hurricane wind at Christmas. I am not sure I am quoting it correctly so I plug it, as I recall it, into the big search engine that so easily takes the place of the paper dictionaries I have on either side of me, or the books I would have physically searched to locate. One hit catches my eye and I am enticed by a blog entitled “Literal-minded, linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally.” The photo bears an eerie resemblance to someone I once knew, who could easily be the author of such a thing; then I realize, as happens more and more these days, he looks like a memory 20 or more years old. And the minor detail of a name. Of all the things that could tempt me to join Facebook, this comes the closest.
It is not really a hurricane, one blogger chides, it is a hurricane wind. I could easily fall into the abyss of replying to such nonsense but think better of it and close the page, although only after saving a comment from another reader: “My stars. Compared to this guy I’m friggin’ normal!” Unable to completely resist I bookmark the whole thing for another day.
It is dark and wet but mild and calm. The rain has been falling off and on most of the day, turning the sky and sea a seamless silver gray. The tide seems always to be high when this kind of rain is falling, tying the surface of the New Harbor to the clouds, rising up to cover all but one of the rocks in the water beside the Surf Hotel.
Now, long after the fast falling dusk, the lights of the harbor are clearly visible, bright white yellow and red. They fool me into thinking the rain that had pounded as darkness came had ceased. It had only abated, a clear curtain, almost summer-like; umbrella rain when I take the visiting black dog for a very short walk.
The moon has risen somewhere behind the clouds, a half disc that could illuminate the land were it clear and bright. There are none of the stars that so amaze visitors from the cities and suburbs where the sky is diminished by man-made lights — the trade-off I think of on those clear nights when the bridges on the mainland shine, strings of pearls on black velvet; or when the pond is filled with boats and a fallen galaxy floats above the water.
She is a very sweet dog but single minded. Every time I get up she thinks it is time for a treat, or wants me to think it is — after all, why else would I be moving? She came into the house in that crazy dark before 6 o’clock and went directly to the spot where the dog dishes were when she was last here, and had I not been forewarned I might have believed she had not just had her dinner. She comes and sits beside me, making little “pet me, pet me” noises until I relent or until she gets bored and goes off for a nap.
Treats and naps and walks, these creatures have such taxing lives. Hopefully, by morning, when she wakes and bounces to go out, the rain will be gone, drifted out to sea.