It was a dark and stormy night. I struggled to stay awake and keep my husband company as we drove home from a concert in downtown Indianapolis. In the pitch dark, our country drive didn’t have the peaceful quality it usually has. An eerie fog hovered over the road and in mid-air patches. Each blind curve of the winding road made my heart skip a beat. Trees reaching from both sides took on ominous shapes.
“It’s kind of creepy out,” Mike said, turning off the music to better concentrate on driving. A pair of red piercing eyes glared at us from the side of the road before we could see they belonged to an oversized opossom. I was about to speak when huge white flapping wings suddenly descended, covering the entire windshield. I screamed in unison with the creature as it swooped to the left and reappeared in the driver’s side window. The owl’s head and wingspan were massive, and its frantic eyes peered into the car, inches away from Mike’s blue eyes which had never been bigger. “Whooooooo!” it screeched as it beat its wings and disappeared from view.
When you live in the boonies, you get used to things that go bump in the night. Nature is home to the cute and cuddly, the beautiful and lovely, as well as the creepy and crawly.
Just in time for Halloween, it seems nature has gotten into the spirit of the season with a few decorations of its own. A Hunter’s Moon glowed mysteriously in the hazy sky this week. Spiders, snakes, and bats have all made recent appearances. Since the first of the month, pumpkin-size orange fungi known as jack-o-lantern mushrooms have decorated a fallen log on our property. Nature has quite a sense of humor.
One morning this week I was unpleasantly awoken by the repetitive, harsh, and shrill squawking of birds. More than a dozen large black ravens had overtaken and ravaged our bird feeders. They circled the frosted ground like soldiers and perched heavily in evergreen trees. A shiver ran down my spine. They are stunning, but have a menacing and sinister countenance.
I used to entertain my literature students on Halloween with stories of the headless horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the madman from The Tell-Tale Heart. To add to the atmosphere, I’d turn off all the lights and burn a candle in the center of the classroom.
To my wicked delight, I’d sometimes play the part of an eldritch schoolmarm. Walking around the students’ desks, I’d dramatically recite Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven ~
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore – While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door…