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A NIGHT OUT IN ABER.


Well, not exactly in Aber, as I live a couple of miles outside. I don’t head out until dusk is well advanced. I deliberately don’t take a torch, just my bundle. Stepping out I take a dozen steps down the garden. Entering the darkness I stand, still and silent. Gradually, minute by minute the dark pulls back and allows me to pick out more of my surroundings. This night the moon is weak and on a very light and intermittent breeze the odd small cloud passes high overhead, I widen my eyes as much as possible seeking every bit of light. The darkness receding as my eyes adjust. I become aware of the heavy scent of a nearby buddleia. I carefully walk forward in the semi-dark, I cannot really see the ground in front of me but my well worn baseball boots are like moccasins and I can feel each twig and stone. I don’t move my weight until I have felt a firm foothold, to me I’m being very quiet but I know that for those around me I’m deafening. A sleepy bird scolds me from a bush. In the dark this well known path is already an adventure, a different place and world. Under the big Ash is a bed of thick ivy. I unwrap my bundle, lay out the piece of canvas and my sleeping bag, placing a small pillow by the head, swiftly I climb in and wrap the ends of the canvas around me, squiggling and squirming to find the most comfort. Soon done and now I lie still. It will take a while for the wilder-ness around me to recover from all my noise. I can smell the faint must of rotting leaves, the tang of crushed ivy. At first the slight breeze-conducted clatter of leaves is all I hear but soon I start sorting out the players from the conductor. The stiff holly is rarely stirred to enough to contribute, willow and birch are the sibilant strings that play with the slightest breath. To my left there is a trio of large sycamore leaves which with a little encouragement clap hands. There are two pines who shush the night. This music comes and goes with the winds whims but know I know its tune I begin to pick out other sounds; over there I think a wood mouse has recovered from my coming and is going about his business looking for fallen sycamore seeds. There is as with nearly all wild animals no repetitive rhythm to his movements but the turning over of leaves and small sounds of movement are not quite in time with the breezes baton. I become happy with my catalogue of the activity around me and drowsy, through the blackness of the leaves above me bright stars gift light sent before the earth formed from the dead dust of time. Being in a very small way a part, of that beyond comprehending journey is one reason for doing this, losing self in the world, in the roll of night. This is the difference between bivvying and tenting; in a tent though flimsy you are still encased and buffered in a human world. Have I ever been scared, alone in the night? No. There are places and countries I have been that I would be. I’d be scared at night on my own in almost any city. But out in the woods nearly everything avoids the arch-destroyer man. I guess part of that is familiarity and knowledge, when your brain knows what things are it neither imagines monsters nor pushes the adrenaline button. Morning comes early in the real world. As a light dampness of dew appears on my bivvy the first birds start to stir, though few yet sing. The stars fade the night rolls into dawn and perhaps I see the homeward bound fox crossing the field. Though it is not the season of the dawn chorus a happy robin or a loud wren will salute the new day. Arising I disturb them all again as I stiffly gather the bundle and regretting my own noisiness head back into that human world. I sit at the kitchen table coffee in hand with the house sleeping. It is ‘the morning after the night before’ and though a mite tired I hold inside me the timeless sounds and silences of the real world.

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