Day and Night

Before the storm

Every day, more leaves fall from the trees, and on Saturday, while splitting wood, I spy the season’s first snowflakes. If flakes is even the right word; they’re so small I can barely see them at all, like motes of frozen dust that melt to nothing the moment they hit the ground.

Later, riding my bike down the backside of the mountain road, I happen upon a car parked at the road’s shoulder. There’s a puddle of bright blood just under the front bumper, soaking into the dirt. There’s a dog in the driver’s seat and no one else in the car, which appears undamaged. I stop, unsure of what my role might be. Hello? No answer. Hello? No answer. The dog watches me, unperturbed. The cars’ flashers tick on and off. I ride on, but in 15 minutes, now headed for home, I pass the spot again. The car is gone. The blood still soaking. Near the top of the mountain, I try to catch a falling leaf in my hand and miss.

In the evening, I pull the truck into a gas station and empty $80 into its tank. I have a love-hate relationship with this particular station; I hate it because it has television screens on the pumps that start screaming at me the moment I begin pumping. It startles me every time. And I love it because right next door there’s a run-down house with rabbits inhabiting a wooden hutch that’s essentially in the parking lot of the gas station. It seems a small life for the rabbits, to be sure, but I like to watch them while I pump, and I like that departing the station requires me to execute a three point turn in order to avoid hitting them. Where else can I get gas and be compelled to navigate around rabbits? Go ahead: Give me an example. I bet you can’t come up with a single one.

That night, the moon is big and bright and I’m awakened by the singing of coyotes. They are close and loud and I lie there watching the moon and listening until they’ve moved on or gone silent or both, and then there’s really nothing more to do but close my eyes and fall back to sleep.