I was never afraid to go for a walk at night when I was a kid. Sometimes I’d take an old kerosene lantern, but if the moon was up, and it wasn’t too late, off I’d go into the darkness to have adventures. The night air was always full of mysterious noises, tantalizing aromas, and strange sights.
Then I hit puberty and my fear of the night began. Not from any arbitrary awareness of the dark wildness that surrounded the property where we lived though. No, not that at all.
If you’re a woman then you probably have that sinking feeling in your gut that we’ve all experienced because you know what I’m going to write next, or a variation of it. You’ve experienced it too, to greater and lesser degrees.
If you’re a man, then you might suspect, and perhaps have some empathy and compassion, and I hope are actively working to change the culture that’s spawned it.
Back to puberty, and my best friend’s father suddenly starting to take an ‘interest’ in me. He stalked me. Day and night, then not at all until I’d start to have hope, thinking he’d tired of his little ‘game’. But the cycle would begin again.
There went my childhood. I survived it. But the night was never the same.
As a young adult I lived in a big city and learned very quickly where it was safe to walk alone and where it wasn’t, and when it was safe to walk alone and when it wasn’t.
It took me my twenties and goodly portion of my thirties to be able to reclaim the night. (Those ‘Reclaim the Night’ marches back in the 80’s were something to behold, weren’t they? … and if you never got to participate in one, then imagine walking with hundreds and sometimes thousands of women, in the dark, never alone, and with a big grin on your face)
I have my trusty little lantern, (battery powered and USB chargeable) and my walking stick, just in case my knee gets a little squibbely, and off into the night I go. (don’t worry I still have very good radar about where and when it’s safe to walk)
In the night there are always adventures to be had and wondrous sights to be seen. Like this little cedar tree, growing out the top of a fence post.
Here’s the real Eine kleine Nachtmusik, by Anna Maria’s wee lad Wolfie …