Reticent by Nature
Daylight’s allotted time is lengthening. This is good, because winter’s prolonged darkness encourages my reticence. Given the chance, I would become a hermit, seeing no one, speaking to no one. I am reluctant to leave the comfort of my home at any hour, but more-so once shadows creep out of the gloaming and huddle around my door. My friends chide me for being aloof.
Sitting in my strategically placed rocking chair, I capture the afternoon sun, soak in its heat and brilliance. Soon, I see the last vestiges of sunlight squeezed out of the clouds, as it slowly sinks behind the hill and is abruptly gone. Sunset’s fire bleeds into violet in a violent clash for supremacy. But the battle is short-lived, over almost before it is begun, and the weakened hues dull to flamingo and rose, then mauve and gray, until all succumbs to near-blackness.
I sit, contemplating the dusk from my own velvety darkness, searching for familiar shapes—which look nothing like their daytime selves—ordering my world, reassuring myself all is well. I do not lock my door against the night. What good is a bolt, against shadows and hobgoblins? Locks are for people. They rarely venture here.
The cat, my sole companion, watches with me, moon-eyes round and alert, aware of the most subtle movement. This evening, she tells me, not even a rabbit stirs. Our conversation revolves around food and feelings. A full stomach and a warm patch of sunshine are of great concern to a feline, but so is a bit of companionship, though she, like me, requires less of that.
I leave the light off, preferring dimness to bright incandescence. My cottage is not void of light. Tonight, the rising moon that illuminates the trees, turns the coat rack into a hunch-backed intruder, outlines the single teacup on the table. As it does many nights. Neither is my cottage void of sound. Darkness enhances the quiet, yet night itself hums. Vibrates with its own life. Temperature changes elicit creaks and groans from the house frame. Clocks tick, an upstairs faucet drips. Winter finds the winds haranguing us with an insistent whistle, low, like a boiling kettle. A barn owl hoots. Occasionally a palpable hush falls as snow insulates my world. In warmer weather, crickets chirp, breezes rustle through the cottonwoods.
Dusk marks another day of solitude. But do not mistake solitude for loneliness. For solitude is a choice. Being alone is something I seek. I guard my solitude like a jealous lover—wanting no one to intrude on this precious relationship. I am reticent by nature, alone by design. Reluctant to share myself or be part of anything outside my comfortable domain. How blessed I am, to have the choice of being alone or not. How fortunate to have been afforded so many opportunities; unaffected by reticence, I have seen and accomplished wondrous things. Sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied. Now, I bask in the light of remembrance, welcoming twilight and dawn in equal measure.