I must say there are few similarities to walking here in town in Wisconsin and walking out in the country in Michigan. Each has their own unique aspects. Fast Eddy, my furry four legged friend loves snow and forces me out every night into the cold for our usual evening walk.
Our familiar day route take on a different magical look as we head out into the night. When it is bitterly cold, like this week, I rarely see anyone else out walking so it is a private experience. The snow muffles much of the city sound. Christmas lights decorate the exterior of many houses on our route, and provide an added beauty. Some nights I walk with my iPod tuned to Christmas music to embellish the walk. In darker sections, where there are no Christmas lights, one only has to look toward the glittering sky and see the moon, the stars and familiar constellations or look down at the sparkling snow reflecting the light of a distant street light. Last winter I heard an owl several nights in a row in a stand of pine trees in a neighbor’s back yard. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love cupping my hands and blowing soft calls back to the hidden bird. This can go on forever. Owls are curious and usually come in close. I have done this many times living out in the country in Michigan, but never expected to hear them in town. Great fun, my husband if he is along, rolls his eyes, and who knows what the neighbors think!
In NW Michigan, my home for most of my life, walking at night is a different adventure. A few years ago, I received a headlamp as a gift to illuminate my evening walks. There are no sidewalks, so I walked along the edge of our country road. You might be walking on a plowed road or in a foot of snow. And if you hear a distant whine of a snow machine, you had to be prepared to jump out of the way as they cut around the corner or appear over the ridge of a hill at lightning speed. As the snow deepened and covered the fields, I refined my walking by cross country skiing at night away from the road and the dreaded snowmobiles. My dog, would walk on the trail either behind me or ahead of me as my beacon. Our 100 acres farmland between my brother’s house and my house provided the escape. By day, my brother created trails around the perimeter and through the middle as a recreational course for family and friends to enjoy. By night the terrain, mostly hilly, would be my trek and vigorous workout zone. http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/hsLbxzRN
This one particular winter, talk of cougars being sighted around the county spooked me. My mind started churning “what if” scary stories. Thinking that cougars likely hunted after dark, and there were lots of deer in the orchard, I might run into one stalking its prey. Then I thought, well my dog would alert me or protect me if such a beast were near. Or there was the coyote scenario that came to mind. The packs are often heard howling into the night, very close to our house. Perhaps a pack of wild coyotes would attack the dog as he venture out into the shadows away from me. It was scary being out there alone without other human company, but I felt adventuresome for being outside while most of the world was inside their cozy houses safe and sound.
So if you have not taken an evening stroll in the winter night in a great while, give it a try. Its beauty is incomparable, and maybe you will get lucky and have your own adventure and hear an owl, experience a quiet snowfall, see a deer, or better yet, discover the Christmas Star.