I love summer nights here in New Mexico. The evening air typically cools by as much as 20 degrees from the daytime temperatures.
When I was a teenager I often snuck out my window and wandered around aimlessly, padding along different neighborhood streets in my Keds. I'd like to say they were sturdy, but my big toe could wear a hole in the fabric in less than 5 weeks. I loved the feel of the night breeze on my skin, just a whisper along the hair on my arms to tingle. I'd try to sneak up on stalking cats and tickle their ears - sometimes I was successful. There was a lot that once had a beautiful mulberry growing on it that was perfect for climbing and it had large limbs I could perch and lounge around on and in. It was a perfect place to hang out in the dark of night, to feel at ease in.
At night, one's senses become attenuated. On the mesa I'd sit nestled in silken sand and listen to the sounds of night. I could hear the whisper of a bat's wings beating in the air, the padding amble of a stray dog, it's paws crunching sere grasses beneath them. The scrabble of mice as their feet dug into the dirt under clumps of grass as owls hunted them could make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
It was darker at night back then. The city wasn't as large as it is now. I'd pillow my head on a rock and stare up into the night sky seeing the Milky Way spilled into the dark and the faint blues, yellows and reds of distant stars, their light like pinpricks through velvet on still nights, and twinkling, coruscating like flickering fireflies when winds stirred dust up in the higher levels of the atmosphere. If my wanderings in the night took me up into the foothills, I'd look down into the bowl of the city and the lights looked as if some careless dragon had spilled out chestfuls of diamonds, citrines, rubies, sapphires, garnets and tourmaline for some invisible seamstresses to embroider onto swaths of rich black velvet. Light and sound were entirely mutable - one moment dimmed and hushed, another harsh and shattering.
Night was the mystery I embraced, the solace I sought. In the darkness, I could merge with shadows and pass in silence. It was nothing I feared, though a thunderstorm and the winds presaging it could make my body tingle and tremble with anticipation as I turned into a storm runner, racing my way home as the sky gods threw their bolts of lightning around the heavens, limning the clouds with silvers and greys and black.
As I got older, of course I found the night was made for other things - like forbidden sex, lover's sex. Loosing myself in hot embraces, sweaty skin sticking and slipping while the sounds of neighborhood traffic went by, belly taut partly in fear of discovery. Night for hanging out drinking coffee, flirting with the guys at Kaps, sometimes seeing a hot guy like Indio or Smitty and set my cap for them, wondering if I could get them to take me to their beds. We were young - healthy human animals and our blood was hot, hormones pumping through us and driving the need to mate, often and to cherish our body's dance of lust and pleasure, sensation and satiation...or just sometimes could we just go for a ride on your motorcycle, please? Another way to dance with the night! oh yah...
Of shadows and secrets I know much. Camping in the mountains, I stroll along familiar paths at festival events where fires light the faces of drummers and dancers circle the fires, men and women stripped to their waist or more, swaying, chanting, intoning the names of gods and goddesses remembered over time. I've danced around those fires myself, and still do, but not so much now. My bones quarrel sooner now, so I slip back into the embracing darkness, content that those younger, more supple have assumed their rightful places in the night dance. I am a daughter of the moon, daughter of night