Darker ‘n Toby’s

It’s dark and misty outside, with nearly no moon, which means that it’s more than usually difficult to see outside. I got up full of vim to go for a walk this morning, but it is still too dark to go. Living away from streetlights has advantages – so many more stars to see, and moonlight which gives a magical appearance to things. However – it can get so very dark! “Darker ‘n Toby’s.” (Toby was black a dog from some point in my family history. The original expression has another word, denoting the posterior portion of Toby’s anatomy, but it is generally left out for politeness’ sake.)

A few nights ago I went to put out the trash, and was pulled up short a few steps from the house because just beyond the pool of light from the outside lights I suddenly couldn’t see anymore. I put my hand in front of my face, as an academic exercise – I could see it, but barely. I was afraid not of wild animals but of “physics in your everyday life,” as my husband puts it; that is to say, walking into a pole, or turning an ankle in a rut.

Our road is curvy and hilly, and offers picture postcard views. Mostly. Once while on a walk (during the day)  I came in view of a small shed. Dark grey smoke was pouring out of the door and shooting out under the roof from the eaves. The sound of a revving engine issued from the inside. The horrible thought occurred to me that someone was trying to do themselves in. Just then however I caught a glimpse through the door and saw two men on either side of a motorbike on blocks. It didn’t seem likely that they were going for a double suicide.

One of the men plunged out the door, with a long and eloquent stream of cursing. He saw me, and stopped.

“Sorry about that, ma’am,” he said. “I got a little angry there.”

I waved to signify that I had not taken offense (I hadn’t) and carried on.

Time to go for a walk while the going’s good! Sayonara ’til later.



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