Friday, October 31, 2014


I have always liked Byron

SHE walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek and o'er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

When I was a much younger man, I could see in the dark, and it had no fears for me. I actually liked the dark. The one teeny drawback to that, is that everybody else thinks the dark should be spent in bed. I have always disagreed. I treasure the dark.

I could leave my apartment on Grape Street, walk down to the harbor front, walk all the way out to the end of Harbor Island, and then walk home without seeing anybody. It was a 5 mile tramp through the beating heart of a major American city and I could spend it lost in thought, smoking and writing dialog for novels you'll buy next year, and never see a soul.

You could google the image if you like. Start at 215 West Grape Street and then wander down to the harbor front and then walk along it until you get to the restaurant at the end of Harbor Island about 100 yards from where my ship used to moor. I walked that path every day I was in town every night.

San Diego was a big town. Most of those walks didn't start until after 2300. Later, when I moved to Solana Beach I used to walk down to the beach every night and I'd walk as far as the tides and surf permitted. Sometimes, the surf won.

All that time, cloaked in night, I never even thought about my personal safety. No guns, no sword, just a walk in the dark in the moonlight.

I kind of miss those nights. It has been a long time.


Buck said...

"Personal safety" is a constant thought for city dwellers today and more's the pity. Of all the things we've lost during my lifetime... and there have been plenty... the vanishing sense of security has to be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest.

I never took long walks in the dark with the sole purpose of doing only that, but I HAVE wandered about the city after midnight... both here and abroad... and enjoyed the Hell out of it.

HMS Defiant said...

Oh, I walked downtown too. The distance was the same. It might have helped that when I lived in San Diego that the downtown was impossibly seedy, smelled of urine and was the home of life's losers but they didn't prey on the people out long after dark. It was probably a sort of recognition that people who roamed the streets at will long after dark were much more dangerous than those who lived at the bottom of the well. I never heard of anybody attacked or assaulted in the old downtown before the full implementation of the redevelopment scheme.

I started taking long walks at 12 in the dark over the mountain behind our house and the only time I recall being a little bit disconcerted was when I found myself in the local farmers field facing a bull. It was an encounter that was disturbing by moonlight.