You can put me in a big old farmhouse surrounded by woods and the darkness of night, and I will thrive in the quiet, never fearful of odd sounds or simply the silence itself. I have never run from solitude. But the last two nights, quite honestly, I’ve been a little scared and I wasn’t even alone.
For the last ten months I have been sleeping downstairs with our old dog, Scout, who sometimes gets anxiety during the night. He will limp his seventy pound body next to my mattress and put his big furry head on my pillow, asking for love and reassurance. I’ll give him a snuggle, and sometimes we’ll both go outside to take care of business together.
Two nights ago Scout woke me up at 1:00 am, pushing his cold nose into my face and licking my cheek. The night was mild so I just threw on a sweatshirt and rubber boots, leaving behind my pants for a (no pun intended) brief walk.
As we headed down the driveway, I noticed some lights where lights shouldn’t be, shining through the windows of our neighbor’s carriage shed about fifty yards through the woods. We share a driveway with our neighbors, and one thing I know for sure, they are gone for the winter and we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of forest with no nearby neighbors. So why the lights? I looked up at the full moon thinking it might be reflecting off the windows, but clouds had moved in. These were real lights, and I was standing there in my rubber boots and underwear with an arthritic dog and a weak flashlight.
In twenty years I had never seen these lights, and for just a moment I felt the first little seeds of fear. So I did what any good farmer does with seeds, and I planted them. I wasn’t looking for any kind of confrontation, given my outfit, so we headed back in the house where I did something else that hadn’t been seen in twenty years: I locked the door.
Not wishing to wake or alarm Amy who was sleeping upstairs, Scout and I quietly went back to bed. Surely there would be a logical explanation come daylight. But before daylight could come, Scout woke me at 5:00am with a little nudge, so I decided to look out the window for the lights. They were gone.
When daylight came I milked cows and made yogurt for the farmers’ market (chores first, mysteries second), then walked up the unplowed driveway to the carriage shed. No footprints were anywhere to be found in the snow. No lights were on.
Evening soon came, and I talked it over with Amy but we had no explanation. She thought perhaps it was a dream, but I knew it wasn’t. Around 9:30pm I was in the shower when Amy poked her head into the bathroom and said “The lights are on!” I quickly toweled off and got dressed, complete with pants, and we both headed quietly toward the carriage shed. About halfway there those seeds of fear must have sprouted, and we stopped. This was no dream, and who was in that inaccessible building surrounded by woods, and leaving no tracks?
With a slight grin, Amy suggested that I keep going and she would stay behind with her cell phone to call 911 if I yelled for help. I desperately wanted to reverse those roles, but somebody had to wear the proverbial pants in this situation, and Amy reminded me that I’m not particularly proficient with cell phones. Good point, so I kept going, boots crunching loudly in the snow, feeling vulnerable. Approaching the long building I thought I noticed a pick-up truck in the dark shadows of the far end. My heart rate jumped; was it really a vehicle or just my imagination being fueled by delicious sprouts from those seeds of fear? I decided to retreat with hopes of taking over cell phone duty.
Amy was gone. I listened in the silence, and soon heard footsteps back by the carriage shed. Scout started to bark wildly. An owl hooted and I knew it was Amy back by the carriage shed. She had approached from a different angle, down by the phantom pick-up truck, so I ran back to meet her by the light-filled windows, and we saw that nobody was inside. The florescent lights were on in the middle-bay workshop, but there was no way to open the long sliding door. It was heavily banked with snow that slides from the roof all winter.
The adjacent sliding door to the outer-bay was open, so I walked in with a flashlight and found a small opening in the wall, barely big enough to crawl into the workshop, which I did. I walked over to the row of florescent lights and saw where they were plugged into the wall, and there was no timer for turning them on and off. Which, of course, begs the question: Who or what plugged them in and then unplugged them, and then plugged them in again in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night?
I am a big fan of logic, but that only gets you so far in life. We are so limited by our human senses, so unaware of multiple dimensions beyond our reach. This could be our whimsical friends Lucy and Dexter from a half-mile down the road having a bit of haunted fun, given Halloween was rained out. But I doubt it. Again, no tracks in the snow. Until that logical explanation hits me squarely in the face, I am happy and content thinking it is something else altogether, trying hard to shed some mysterious light on this uninitiated farmer in the dark.