Thursday, June 24, 2004

Highland Nights
We spent four evenings at the Highlands last week, soaking up nature, seclusion, fun.

There are no houses or farms nearby so light pollution is minimal and stargazing excellent. The milky way was so intense it looked like a cloud covering the night sky. Draco dominated the night sky - you could almost see him flipping his tail. We watched the moon rise and set. We saw the occasional shooting star.

We cooked over an open fire four nights, using apple wood from FIL's pruning last year. We are not big meat eaters, so the bacon wrapped filets were a real treat. Campfire cooking is a skill - small fire, large bank of coals, potatoes buried in the hot ashes, sensing when to turn and when to bank up the coals, feeding wood into one side of the fire to ensure a constant supply of hot coals.

Years ago, Steve taught us how to get our night eyes by walking us down a path in Turkey Run and then turning off the flashlight and waiting ten minutes. The boys were about eight years old then and were more interested in the static electricity caused by rubbing their knit hats on their coats than sensing the night. Since then we have added to our repertoire of moonlight activities. Monster tag, played in the moon shadows, has been a longtime favorite. Last week we added moonlight dodge ball, played on the barn porch, It was hard to see the ball, but we got proficient at dodging the ball by judging the general body posture of whoever was It. We unintentionally played moonlight tennis at a nearby high school, as they were rennovating the tennis courts and the electricity was turned off. We would call out when we served, but usually the only hint at the location of the ball was when it hit the fence. So it turned in an hour of blind serves and chasing the ball.

Music, of course, was part of the Highland experience. The lap or mountain dulcimer is perfect for quiet campfires. We played name that tune and listened to the coyotes join in the singing.

We've had this land nine years now and enjoy the peace and seclusion. However, the 70 acres next to us has been divided into four tracts and houses will soon be built. Our trees are getting big enough to provide seclusion, but I suspect the city folks moving in will install bright security lights dimming the night sky.

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