In the end, we chose our ornamental solar lights and the darkness of the forest.
For one thing, it didn’t prove possible to tilt my neighbor’s stadium lighting to shine on our part of the forest.
But more so, we told each other, it was the dark of the forest. It was feeding our children with ideas, filling their imaginations with things beautiful and things wicked. They told us of giants and pixies, of ghouls and witches. Fairies and dragons and ghosts, and of little people who lived with the ants and the beetles, and made little homes under blades of grass and in the trees. Aliens and dinosaurs roamed the forest, and dragonflies flew around the house, dragonflies so big, they told us, that they could sweep you away.
So we chose life – their life.
It was far more electrifying than watching TV. It was like delving into one Ray Bradburystory after another, and coming out unscathed and wanting more.
You want a taste?
Well, here’s something:
We were driving home to the pine forest, and the kids were in the back egging me on to go faster, to pass the other motorists on the highway.
“Go, go, go,” they yelled
I gave them a piece of my wisdom: “Safety first, kids.”
They weren’t having it. “Faster, faster, faster,” they yelled.
Then they changed tactics and took over the driving from the backseat. “Quick,” my eldest daughter told her brother, “you steer and I’ll get us going faster.”
“Like a rocket,” my son said.
I looked in the rearview mirror and saw faces of determination and of, well, trepidation, of the creeps. My eldest daughter shot her head round to look over her shoulder and out the back window.
I followed her gape to the road behind us and I saw it. Yes, it was all happening. It was. I watched as before my very eyes the birds turned into flying dinosaurs, the stray dogs into giant beasts. The fields of corn uprooted themselves and gave chase as a giant with a cob-shaped head stretching into the sky. The cars became enormous lions racing to catch us. I drove faster and we raced through the shadow of a humungous tyrannosaurus rex who flung her neck down and widen her jaws to swallow us whole.
I could see it all.
My son turned sharply to skirt away from the ferocious jaws and my daughter pushed down the accelerator to race out of reach, and we flew forward and away from the dinosaurs and the giant monsters that gave chase.
Yes, we were out in front!
I looked back and saw the kids’ faces start to relax.
We kept racing forward and there before us on the horizon we saw our town appear. But I didn’t relax. I kept my eyes peeled for anything too big for road kill.