Under heavy moonlight among cobblestones with backs pressed to brick walls we watch the world retreat. Faint headlights miles away dance across a horizon that looks slightly lunar. We are smoking cigarettes to filters and laughing down the street from where I grew up and throwing beer cans into a frozen field. Adventurers in outer space. Visitors taking every star and giving them the attention they deserve. We shine for them as they shine for us. I etch my name into a brick to commemorate this juncture in time that I have found myself in and the show begins. Aurora Borealis. She is beautiful. Celestial lights play in our eyes as if from an invisible orchestra. Greens and reds dance on the stage in the sky.
"Do you fucking see that?!" I exclaim in giddy awe.
I have never seen anything so near a god. She is the muse that convinced Monet to paint landscapes. Just seeing her makes the snow whiter and purer. The bricks melt away and it is just her and I and he basking in her glow. We run into the corn field in order to evacuate civilization and be nearer her nature. The howl of a band of coyotes sets us to whooping and running about. To the woods. We want to find them. To look into their eyes and feel fear as they surround. To hear bullfrogs and crows cawing from perches looking for dead meat. This is my habitat. This is my world. A world away from bullshit and petty problems. A world where nature has overgrown humanity's progress.
The trees are thick here and the ground littered with pine needles and dead leaves. It smells of moisture and rotting wood. And in the creek are fish and frogs, but they are under the ice. The squirrels are hibernating only to wake up and gorge on nuts stashed among the flora.
In the center, where the only thing you can see are trees and old railroad ties, we erect a brush shelter. We hew some dead limbs off of an oak tree as a frame and stack thick, bushy pine branches around them. Temporary home. We sit inside and smoke cigarettes and laugh and listen to the music of the night in these woods. It is peaceful. If it were warmer I would sleep, but all good things must end. I stand and stretch my lean muscles upward toward the ceiling. It's time to show him the woods in more explicit terms.
We gather our lighters and coats and rones and step outside. Her concert is still playing Moonlight Sonata's second movement. I take the lead and walk on a slim trail along the edge of an icy slope. Foot to rock, hand to root all along the edge until we are in the basin of the woods. Here the trees are different. It is a different environment completely. There's more oak and more sky and the ground is covered in snow, the pure white snow. I have been longing to see the Aurora again and now is my chance. She hasn't lost her beauty or power to awe, but I am more used to her now. She doesn't stupefy me as much as before but I still appreciate every curve and movement she makes. I have lost him now. He decides to turn back and get another beer, but I press on. These woods are still overwhelming me and I need to make it to the end. I can still hear those coyotes calling my name and I will not disappoint. I press on.
The snow is deep and hard to walk through in some places and it cascades over the sides of my shoes. I don't care. I have willpower and will see this thing through till the end. There's a slight branch of the creek here with scattered animal bones along the bank. It's hard to weep for something you never knew and much easier to ignore when you have things to do. I press on.
It becomes more of a struggle here as it's an uphill climb steeped in ice and snow. Falling is easier than climbing, but I take my time and make it to the top. There are more pine trees up here, but the ground is still snow. No animals move and nature seems to have lost some of it's beauty in these parts. People have been here and have carved things into the trunks of the trees. There's an abandoned rail car from when the train tracks littered the ground and there are downed telegraph poles from the same era. At least it has begun regressing. That's a slight comfort. I reach the treeline and by this point I was promised beasts. I was promised adventure. I see nothing. No coyotes or wolves or bears even. Just the trees with names carved in them and a rotting, broken down rail car. I look to Aurora with a questioning glance as if she herself had made the promise. I lost my friend along the way and got nothing for it except a long walk through a cold woods. I become bitter and she becomes stale to my eyes. Her music is bland and not comforting at all. I walk away through the woods. When I reach our shelter, I remember the cigarettes and stop to have one. I think of Aurora and think that I might miss her again, but as I reach the end of the woods she is there and I keep eyes to the ground as I walk home to leave her to her own devices. Her curves are no longer satisfying and she begins to fade. Before she leaves, I give her a smile and the stars twinkle back at me and I step into my house.