Midnight winter woods

It’s a wild night, that much I confess to myself, setting out in hat and coat and scarf. Too wild for the likes of me, the sane and the still-too-sober, to be out of doors, too late to be wandering the streets, far too late to be stepping out and into the woods. And as the light of the last street lamp flickers and disappears behind one too many trees, my pluck goes with it, another flame extinguished whether by lack of oxygen under the heavy midnight drape, or by the thumb and forefinger of the forest that says, simply, no.

But I was called, away from the hearth and my glass by a sensation that said seek, a call to a void that said find me. It came in the clink of glasses and the rhythm of merriment. Out the door it giggled in the gurgle of the rain just-stopped, flowing in the gutter. And so it led me away from my home, through the village and out.

The trees offer no respite, from neither cold nor gale. Ignoring the thunder that has moved on to rumble in the distance, the distillation of rain through the trees takes me back in time to wet me with a storm that I happily sat-out in the warmth of the pub. The wind whips between trunks and branches to lash about my limbs, to take my hat and fling it far – and at that I find the folly of my endeavour. Emboldened by a drink that lies and says I’m sober, that stokes my nerve, that builds me up and will, I know it, knock me over.

Now home is in my mind. Out the dark and the wet, back to a house with warm winter glows, the comfort of my wife’s scolding tongue. But which way?

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