This weekend I went with some book club friends to stay at a log home in rural Pennsylvania. One of these ladies fulfilled a lifelong dream of building a log home, and we got to reap the benefits. It was lovely. The leaves were in peak season, the air smelled like fresh pine, and the stars lit up the night. We went antiquing, took long nature walks and went to a small town festival filled with, well, not much at all. But there were a couple of alpacas there, so that was awesome.
All was great until I tried to go to sleep the first night. It turns out that I might still be a little afraid of the dark. I go out of my way to make my room at home dark, even covering up the lights from the digital time display on the cable box. But street lights still offer a little hope of making it to the bathroom without running straight into a wall, if the need arises. I also enjoy quiet while I sleep, but count the very slight gentle hum of my husband's CPAP machine as part of my "quiet."
Darkness and quiet take on completely different meanings in rural Pennsylvania. I felt like I was in a void. My friend said one time she walked deep into her 20 acre property to observe the stars one night, turned around, and couldn't see her house. I'm not sure that thrills me.
I found myself lying there in the private room I had been given, unable to keep the lights off. I tried. I expected sleep to envelop me. Instead, when I noticed my eyes weren't adjusting at all, I had a mild panic attack. Horror movies came to mind. Someone with night vision goggles could be reaching out to me and I wouldn't know it. I turned back on the light. I read a little more. I put in my headphones and listened to music. Finally, I used my phone and iPad on a digital clock setting to illuminate the room just enough so that I wouldn't freak out. What I normally cover up at home had become a trusty comfort.
But then I started to settle in as the trip progressed. I realized that surrounding myself with the quiet mountains and abundant wildlife could actually be relaxing. Forget horror movies. Think mother nature and purity and peace. I have to talk myself into these things, but it worked a little. The second night I only needed the phone clock, rather than both that AND the iPad. I fell asleep faster.
The last morning, I didn't want to leave. I was reaching a zen state of bliss. The wildlife didn't want us to leave either. There were 19 turkeys and 4 deer outside the house, just hanging around. When we tried to drive away, the rafter of turkeys (yes, that's what a group of turkeys is called, I learned) decided to make a slow crossing. And then some more stragglers. Oh, then one more. Good lord, where are all these turkeys coming from? Don't they know Thanksgiving is approaching fast?
I found myself enjoying the fact that I got to share the same darkness and quiet as those turkeys and deer, and, we think, a bear (we saw the tell-tale paw print by the deck). Maybe I could learn not to be QUITE as afraid.