Two years ago, I celebrated Christmas and the winter solstice at a candlelight labyrinth. (See my blog entry of January 5, 2014.) This year I walked another candlelight labyrinth. It was offered on the beach at Brigantine. The weather was cool and windy, and the moon almost full. Lovely!
Two nights later I discovered another activity that offers the same sense of peace and opportunity for reflection. I walked a Pine Barrens sand road at night! It was closer to home and required no coordination of schedules.
What got me out into the Pine Barrens at night, on Christmas Eve, no less? I’m married to a naturalist/ecologist. Happily, he studies LOCAL ecosystems, not the rain forest or tundra, so he has research sites in our back yard (literally) and within a few minutes drive from home. Christmas Eve was warm and wet, so he invited me to join him looking for moths.
As usual, we took the precaution of notifying the property owner. We don’t want to be mistaken for “prowlers”! Then we stepped into the woods.
Finding moths requires the use of flashlights, and we were suitably equipped, but it was bright enough to walk without them much of the time. We were prepared for rain, but the weather was changing and the clouds broke up. We were treated to occasional moonlight, sometimes quite bright. We couldn’t resist taking photos with our cell phones, trying for the artsy black and white effect.
I wore rubber rain boots, which allowed me to feel the path beneath my feet. At a slow pace, I found walking in the darkness comfortable and safe.
What reminded me of the labyrinth was the fact that the paths we followed were sandy and often quite bright. After an hour of rambling, I felt adjusted to the darkness and pleasantly calm.
It wasn’t a great night for moths. My husband collected a dozen or so. But that’s what makes natural history interesting. You don’t know what you will find! We heard peepers (really shouldn’t be there in December), geese (barking like dogs) and other birds we couldn’t identify.
I highly recommend a night hike when you have the opportunity. In the Pine Barrens, if you are lucky enough to be here!