Hi all. Maureen Milliken here.
Of the many things I love about my house, the large windows in my bedroom that overlook my narrow street and the tangle of woods across the street top the list. They face west, and in the evening when the sun is going down, the room glows. There trees across the street take on a different character every day of the year and the fascinating show from the huge windows changes with the seasons. I feel like I live in a tree house.
But what I really like is lying in bed at night — I’m a light sleeper and it usually takes some time for me to fall asleep — and seeing the trees outside, the moon filtering through. This time of year all the windows are open, and I fall asleep listening to the loons and owls and occasional tractor-trailer rig barreling down Route 27.
Last night I was lying awake (something about knowing I have to get up earlier than I’ve ever voluntarily gotten up in my life, to write, makes it hard to fall asleep), when my faithful cat, on the bed next to me bristled and growled. She did it very lightly, almost tentatively, but that just made more eerie. I opened my eyes and looked out the window — I don’t have to to move to do it, it’s right there — and saw something gliding down the middle of the street.
It was too big to be a cat and didn’t move like a dog. Gliding is the only word for it. Without my glasses on and with only the light from the almost non-existent moon and my neighbor’s porch, I couldn’t even begin to tell what it was. It seemed light colored, long, thin. Maybe a coyote? It didn’t bob or sway. It wasn’t running, but it was moving swiftly and soundlessly.
My cat, Binti, and I watched as it disappeared down the block, a strange interlude in our night.
The other day I wrote a column for the newspapers I work for about the “real” Maine, the one largely hidden from summer visitors. About the strange little dance we do between our reality and their fantasy, and how little they know of what goes on in our towns, in the woods and behind closed doors.
But as I watched that apparition disappear down my narrow lane, I thought how little even those of us who live here really know about what’s going on around us. Our towns are carved out of tangled woods, jammed in between the rocks, the mountains and the lakes. We’re surrounded by natural forces that we see, but just the surface. There’s a whole world going on right under our noses that we rarely think about and are mostly oblivious to. But I don’t think it’s oblivious to us.
As I watched that long thin shape soundlessly glide down the street last night, I knew it was aware of our world. Not that it was interloping, but that we were, and once we’re put away for the night, it’s free to take it back.
Now there’s something to keep me up at night.
Maureen Milliken is news editor of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal. Her mystery novel, Cold Hard News, the first in the Bernie O’Dea mystery series, was released in June.