I stepped out, locking the door to the house behind me and stood waiting for the motion sensor light to acknowledge me and a few minutes longer to allow all critters to retreat to the undergrowth. In those quiet moments I breathed in the scents of jasmine and fir and lilies and listened to frogs and crickets and the rustle of leaves high in the trees and forgot, for the moment, about the raccoon. It's a short walk down the path, over the bridge and into the studio. Ray leaves the porch light on for me. Still, I feel alert to danger, or at least, unpleasant surprises. Anything could happen in the time it takes to make my way from porch to porch.
The usually so familiar path feels unfamiliar and a little menacing in the dark. My own shadow looms. Still, the night sky, moon, stars and passing cars up on the road as I approach the studio are reassuring and once inside all is well.
Ray told me the last night we spent in the studio he encountered a possum coming out from under the studio porch who, upon seeing Ray, headed back under the porch. Ray flushed him from under the porch with the garden hose and chased him off. But he, and the raccoon, and who knows who else are out there. And while I have suspected as much, now I know. It has been an illuminating few weeks traversing the nighttime yard. Beautiful, peaceful, fragrant and still—and alive out there.