Here's what it's like to walk about a mile at night, along our mountain lane:
The road is dirt, pitted by holes, slashed with some runoff cuts, humped up in the middle, laced by tire ruts. My feet remember the biggest gaps, the sudden breaks. When they don't I stumble for a second, then proceed.
When I reached the halfway home mark huge animals moved in shadows, on my left side. These are Cecil's cows and horses, big beasts. I couldn't see anything of them, utterly invisible beyond the rare occultation of a few stars, but could feel the vibration of the earth through my feet and legs when they ran. Run they did, curious about me, wondering if I brought food. They ran for short distances, booming charges cut short by trees and perimeter fences. I found myself staring into the shadows on my left, hunting for the flicker of a star blocked or revealed by a tall shoulder, listening hard for chuffing breaths.
All kinds of sounds crowd the night, especially those from birds and insects. I listen with one ear, as my other listens to a podcast through an mp3 player's earbuds, leading to a comfortably surreal mashup. Insect gnawing, quantum computing, birds desperately singing for mates, Scots science fiction. My imagination extends into the dark, seeing foxes pace me, writers finishing novels, information racing from site to site.
There is neither snow nor ice. I can recall their late presence easily, seeing last week's surviving drifts along one side of the road. My muscles remember vividly how to walk on the lane when covered with ice (my back and shoulders tense automatically). But walking, now, brings up thoughts of snow and ice for the future. I see fallen tree limbs, sawed-up stumps, and want very much to cut them into proper shape for stacking against the first cold November day.