Blackness seeped around the woods, as twilight faded. The creeping darkness blinded me from seeing the hand in front of my face. I thought I knew the path well, having hiked at least a dozen times before even at night. Without a flashlight though, I didn’t plan on going this far. But the forest beckoned me, the way she does and I felt confident I could feel my way through.
Kettle Moraine land dips and curves from glaciers that moved through Wisconsin years ago. The wooded part of the property stretched for some forty acres before connecting to state sanctioned land. I stumbled around more frustrated than scared, losing my my footing at one point. I tumbled several feet until a pile of brush stopped me. Shit. I got myself into this and I feared I would slide or circle around till morning.
I finally surrendered to the idea of spending the night in the forest. Daylight would rise again and I could figure it then. I squatted down and patted the earth, coming to a fairly flat place, comfortable enough to lay down. The warm September air felt muggy on my skin. I listened to the sounds of the forest, crickets, frogs, a stir of wind. I tried to adjust my body to the damp and slopping earth. Sticks, needles and little stones stuck through the thin layer of clothing I wore.
After several minutes, the mosquitos found me. I heard their annoying buzz in my ears and tried to adjust my shawl to cover me or throw my arm over head so I wouldn’t hear them. I wore only a long cotton skirt, a tank top and flipflops. I tried curling around my sandals, first not to loose them but also so the bugs wouldn’t chew up my ankles. The self talk of my stupidity proved useless and soon I slid into a semi-sleepy state of consciousness. I felt myself drifting off on slow moving glacier land.
That’s when a lucid thought came: if I were dreaming this dreaming this, there would be a way out. Suddenly I knew where to walk and in what direction. Minutes later without missing a beat, I discovered a dirt road on far side of the forest. A blood red moon climbed the ridge as I hoofed it back the lone country lane. I was out of the woods, dreaming my way home.