Saturday, November 19, 2011

Essay ~ Part 4 "Night Fears"

Night Fears
(by Marta Weller, December 4, 2009)

Part 4

My surreal images of driving home and encountering deer
haven't always had the aspect of horror.
Sometimes there is a truly magical quality which can be uplifting.
This is what I try to remember as I wend my way home at night,
driving along a dark country road.
I remember my twilight meeting with an impressive stag.
Not so much a meeting as a peripheral encounter with this magical creature.
The sky had changed to that glowing twilight lavender,
that almost luminous steel-bluish purple that makes one believe
the stories of elves, fairies and unicorns could be true -
or that at the very least something portentous would momentarily occur.
As I crested the hill several hundred yards beyond the driveway of my house
(which stands in a row of Cape Cod style houses across from a field no longer planted, more like a meadow or pasture kept mown as if it were a giant's front yard),
an awesome sight came into view.

In the middle
of the emerald green pasture  
stood a stag - head raised,
seemingly listening
to a distant call.
I slowed to watch.
Slowly, he began to stride
across the pasture
away from my roadway
toward a line of trees.

Not a fear-filled run,
erratic and crazed.
A majestic, head held high,
rack gleaming in the last beams of sunset,
powerful, purposeful progress to his next destination.
It was eerie. Right across from houses with freshly mown lawns,
this king had deigned to pause in his travels.
Driving home tonight,
all alone on a dark country road,
all these images of deer and many more,
scud through my brain.
Like the clouds passing in front of the moon above,
the images flicker past my mind's eye.
The darkness encapsulates me.
The yellow lines mesmerize me.
And now I realize what my mind has analyzed.
My nighttime driving fears have revealed themselves to be
night fears of night-deer.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Essay ~ Part 3 "Night Fears"

Night Fears
(By Marta Weller, December 4, 2009)

Part 3

The next nighttime driving image that fills my mind as I drive along this dark country road on my lonely way home is more fleeting but yet just as eerie.

I remember driving home along another, smaller country road.
A back road much nearer to my home.
It was fall - another fall -
when the deer are moving more erratically, more skittishly
because the human hunters are on the prowl -
day and night they harass the deer.
Daytimes the deer are hunted with bow and arrow, 
later in the season, with rifles -
but at night the deer spotters prowl,
shining lights into hedgerows and fields 
causing the hunted, skittish creatures to become bands of frightened, potentially dangerous zombies.

The night was very black because the moon was in its last quarter. I had just turned onto a small back-country road, a shortcut to the highway that was only a few miles from my home. It was a road lined on my left with open fields and on my right with a few houses in a wooded area. The road went down a small hill. I could barely see the point in the road ahead where I knew the houses and trees along my right would end and a field would begin. 

As I strained my eyes to see the road beyond the lit tunnel of my headlights, my eyes caught some kind of movement off to the side - just beyond the range of my headlights.

Suddenly the movement spilled across the road in front of me. 
My headlights picked up a couple of fast moving deer 
shooting from right to left across the road.
I was far enough away to slow down to a crawl.
As I crept through the black night towards the little access road 
that led into the field on my right,
I kept peering into the spot from which the two deer had emerged.

As I stared, the blackness seemed to be moving -
(imagine this in the black, black night)
different shades of black shifted shape.

When I realized what I was seeing, 
I stopped.
And waited.
My eyes had focused on a herd of deer, 
a dozen, 
maybe even fifteen, 
milling just outside of the trees 
along the access road into the field.

Maybe it was the slow approach of my car, 
or that I had stopped and my headlights unnerved them -
maybe they just decided to bolt all at once,
but suddenly all the deer glided across the road in front of me.
My headlights gleamed on ghostly deer, a solid stream of them.
It was completely silent.
A river of deer flowing across the road.
The twin beams of light shown on their backs and hindquarters
as they moved in an eerie silent rippling motion
over the road and down the embankment into the opposite field,
disappearing once more into the inky black night.

Just a flash of an image that was seared on my brain.
Another nighttime deer encounter I will never forget.

To be continued