The white dog Wilson (he of the noble profile), would I thought, benefit from a late night walk. And me too. In fact any exercise at all would be beneficial. Leads and boots are fitted to man and beast - or dog and woman. Whatever. I grab the torch - it's dark outside.
Indeed it is. Barely a cloud in the sky and moonless too. The air is crisp yet dank. The torch will be useful when manoeuvring the pitfalls and potholes outside the gate.
It takes a while for our eyes to become accustomed to the darkness. I don't think animals need their eyes to see in the dark as we do. I may be wrong. Wilson makes his way unwillingly, by smell. Individual blades of grass are particularly fascinating tonight. I sense inertia and the call of the warm. I haul him up the lane into the darkness where the beech trees over hang the road. Without torchlight I make my way up past the old quarry - now stacked with plastic wrapped silage which exudes a sweet reek - by feeling the squashymossy centre of the lane with my feet. Reaching the top at last, and with my heart pounding, we emerge from the tunnel of trees and into the most exhilarating of open spaces. Here the sky is vast above us and hills fall away to south and east, rising again in the distance lit by pinpricks of light. There's a bright glow which must be Shrewsbury - way over there - maybe 20 miles away. Nearer, some other orange and ugly lights are perhaps in Minsterley and should be shot down immediately. Below me, nearer still and nestled cosily like some birdie's home in a fold of the hills, are the lights at Lower House. We live there, it's home, but still too bright I think.
I follow the grey slick of road and the spectral white dog trotting a lead's length in front. It's a great time of night to lean on a gate and breathe in. Above is that most wondrous panoply of stars, the Milky Way - the lot - and passing through with only the quietest roar - a jet plane. ('Get out of my most perfect sky' ) Otherwise it's very quiet. Tonight nothing scuttles, snorts, hoots or yelps. No eyes flash as I scan the field with the torch. I do some wondering about being scared of the night and its mysteries. Perhaps this is what being grown up is all about, no longer being afraid of the dark.
The white dog has by now done a volte face and is up for a mega-walk, a four miler round the lanes. Sorry Wilson. Time to turn round and head for home. I've done stumbling around in the dark - for tonight at least.