This evening, we finished dinner late, and my older daughter hurried out the door, saying she’d wash the dishes as she tugged on her sweatshirt. The younger daughter rushed, too. Let’s go out, she insisted. Twilight descends rapidly now, and even along our nearly untraveled dirt road it’s too dark for a child to bike in the dark. Independent at ten, she nonetheless walked closely beside me, marveling that her older sister was not afraid. I told her I had been afraid of the dark until I was an adult, and only cured myself by walking back and forth from the sugarhouse to the house in very late nights, in snow and rain and sharp cold. I remember quite clearly how utterly impenetrable I found the dark, and how long it was before my fear lessened, and an even greater time before I welcomed the night as a familiar friend.
I assured my younger daughter she wouldn’t be afraid of the dark forever, either. Walking, we talked about why the songbirds aren’t singing now and about her school monarch butterfly project, and then as we ascended an incline, the moon abruptly appeared from behind the trees, so luminously alive it was like gazing into a pail of fresh milk, luscious with cream. We stopped, shivering a little. As the dusk fattened, my older daughter in her white shirt appeared out of the gloaming, laughing at finding us in the dark.
In all the many things of today, here’s the deepest: the almost-full moon rising over a mountain, greeting my daughters and me in this cool Vermont night.
O Nietzsche, how wrong can you be, though
I like the way you sublimated your rage
into the colic of apoplectic, apocalyptic prophecy.
I don’t know if the world’s bad enough to deserve you,
or if chaos has miscarried at the birth of your dancing star,
but blessings on your head and house, anyway, wherever you are.
–– Patrick White