Brilliant moon last night. It was some hours after midnight and I'd not been able to sleep when there was a shriek from outside. Probably a coyote or owl found a meal. The shriek was repeated. The animal that was food wasn't dying easily. For a moment I was afraid that it was one of the cats and I couldn't sleep anyway... so I slowly got out of bed to keep from waking K, grabbed the glock and the MP light and a pair of sandals and went out to the sound.
This isn't about rushing into danger or some bullshit like that. I did manage to surprise a pair of racoons (and heard the rest of the family in the blackberries) and startle a big deer out of the garden... and we have had cougar, bobcats and possibly a black bear (judging from the scat) in the area.
This is about moonlight and warm night air on bare skin. A moon so bright that you can see the path and dodge the blackberry vines that reach for flesh. Using your ears more than eyes and your nose.
I was clumsy and out of practice. It's been years since I truly stalked in the dark. My world has been one of people and lights for too long now- brightly lit corridors and dorms and cells populated with criminals. Home is work too: making sure that the people I love are happy and safe and growing. Between the two are the commutes and teaching JJ and teaching for the agency. Somewhere along the way, my world became about people instead of about solitude.
I truly care for the people my life is about, so there are no regrets on that score- but I do miss the solitude. The energy that used to go into running for hours through the desert at night now goes into waking up and making commitments and, occassionally, scouting or fighting. The perception and skill and patience that used to be for stalking into the midst of a herd of deer now goes to really listening to a drunk or drugged or violent or mentally ill inmate and slowly, carefully influencing him or her to be, for the next little while, sane and stable and respectful. It's a great challenge that I still love. My skill is still growing.
But I miss the night wind on bare skin. I walk like a city dweller now- heel toe, heel toe. It takes longer than I remember for my eyes to adjust between bright moonlight and deep shadow. I smelled the air last night, but didn't taste it.
Definitely out of practice.
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