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It had been one of those nights when I slept so well I awoke before the alarm went off. I put on my robe then went to the kitchen. The LED lights on the humidifier glowed, illuminating my path down the hallway. The dim lights seemed a little brighter because my eyes were dilated; still, the soft green light was easy on my eyes.
My dog slept peacefully on her bed next to ours. June didn't wake nor follow me down the hall. That was very unusual as she's always is excited about her first visit to the yard in the morning, breakfast, and perhaps the prospect of someone throwing her toy to play catch, even in the dark.
No, today I walked down the hall alone. I wondered how cold it was outside. I knew the temperature was supposed to drop below zero, and the winds were forecast to provide us a bitter wind chill. The house was chilly, so I pulled the collar of my robe, closing it more snuggly.
The stillness of the morning was gentle. Outside I heard the metallic sound of something moving; it almost sounded like rusty hinges on an old sign swaying back and forth in the winds. But there are no signs near here. Maybe it was coming from the neighbor's sawmill just down the road.
I stopped in the hallway to listen. It was like sweet music with an easy rhythm trying to lure me back into a slumber. But, it would remain a mystery from where the noise came. I was not interested in finding its source – just its song.
Although my steps were silent, my bare feet were getting cold. I adjusted my robe again and went back to the bedroom for my slippers. Each step I took produced a soft clacking noise as the heel of my slippers contacted the wooden floor. It's a sound that annoys my wife, and I didn't want to wake her, so I continued, tip-toeing to the kitchen. At least for a few steps until I was distracted, then returned to my usual step.
I heard the boiler kick on in the basement. Then, the radiators sounded off a moment later as the hot water ran through the cold pipes, changing their temperature. It makes a crackling sound, like wood burning in a campfire. It is a beautiful sound that fills the soul with comfort and warmth; it's a sound of assurance that heat is on the way.
Down the hall and across the living room, I could see a brightness coming in the windows. The grey clouds had cleared during the night, letting the moon shine brightly, casting her light over the frigid north woods and into my house.
In the kitchen, there was something odd about the windows. They were moonlit but with darker areas shading parts of them. I could see it from the end of the hallway in the living room windows as well. The illusions were very distinct in the large bay window, where it almost looked like cobwebs had filled the corners. But too much area was affected, and the lines were much too coarse to be cobwebs.
I realized I was seeing shadows cast from trees and branches in our yard by a very bright moon in the dark sky. The Light bounced off the white snow bed in the yard, making the morning brilliant.
The brightness coming into the house created framed squares on the oak floor. Each is like a painting with a unique pattern of moonlight and shadows. It was simply amazing.
From the kitchen window, I looked over the backyard. The shadows from the pine and birch trees were so vivid they were almost surreal. Even the birdbath, topped with its mound of snow, cloned its own image from the light.
I turned to the window and noticed my silhouette cast over the kitchen floor, again framed in the moonlight. Walking room to room, my shadow was there, in every window I stood before as if it was following me. I began to question if I was awake or was I dreaming.
The sign, the wind, the boiler, the pipes, my slippers touching the floor blended to create a symphony. I wanted to dance with so much music, but everyone was still fast asleep; I didn't have a partner. That's never stopped me before. It was all too much for me to try keeping my feet still. So I started softly singing with the orchestra, an old Cat Stevens song: "I'm being followed by a moon shadow. Moon shadow, moon shadow."
I danced, but I was not alone. My own shadow became my partner, keeping perfectly n step with me. We danced our way toward the kitchen. Once I stepped out of the framed moonlight, my shadow left me, returning to the darkness. As I moved into each new frame, my partner rejoined me. "Leaping and hopping on a moon shadow. Moon shadow, moon shadow."
I would make some oatmeal for breakfast. Opting not to disturb the magical darkness, I didn't turn any lights on. Without wearing my contacts, I would have to squint to set the timer on the microwave.
I felt pretty proud of myself; Going to bed early, getting such a good rest through the night, and waking to a morning outpouring with serenity and solitude. I became curious just how much time I had until my alarm would go off and looked at the clock on the stove. The clock was wrong, but the microwave and coffee machine clocks read the same. Perhaps we had lost power for a while.
I picked up my cell phone. The cell phone is independent of the power grid and always has the correct time. "Oh my! It really is 1:27 in the morning." There is something special about getting up, preparing to start your day, and then realizing you can go back to sleep for another three and a half hours.
Not wanting to wake anyone, I tip-toed back to the bedroom. In the moonlight, I could see my wife's face. She was so beautiful and content. Our two cats, Salem and Eve, were fast asleep on her pillow, resting against the top of Melissa's head. I carefully climbed back into bed, pulling the covers up to my chin. June, sleeping next to our bed, took a big breath, relaxing as she let the air flow back out from deep within her.
I turned on my side, facing my wife. I held her hand, and she took a deep breath, Salem and Eve both started purring, and I smiled, "Cats. Cat Stevens." I gazed at my wife until I lulled myself back to sleep, softly singing in my mind, "I'm being followed by a moon shadow. Moon shadow, moon shadow."