It’s Really Dark

August 7, 2019 Off By Carl Ray Evans
Milky Way as seen from Comanche County in Southwest Oklahoma.

“See the hill where those cows are? It’s really dark at night up there. We own that land, too.”

“See the hill where those cows are? It’s really dark at night up there. We own that land, too.”

It was noon. I was driving the graveled county roads looking for a place for me and my good friend Waylen to photograph the Milky Way twelve hours later that night. I was pulled over on the side of one of those roads considering possibilities. This was the third stop I’d made like this and I was thinking this was the best spot so far. I was about to call it so, turn around and head back toward my home in Lawton.

A Cloud of Dirt

What stopped me was I noticed a cloud of dirt, a good mile, west, down the road. Leading that cloud of dirt was a vehicle. For a second, I thought about hittin’ the road and gittin’ out of there. But we don’t do things like that in Southwest Oklahoma. Well, those of us who grew up out here and weren’t there with wrong intentions, didn’t anyway. Not being far from a farm house, I didn’t want to create any concern just in case it was their farm house. (Understand what I mean?) I waited for them to either pass by or not. When the got close, they slowed, moved over, and stopped, window to window, just a little farther away than you would at the drive-thru window at What-a-Burger. A woman was driving and a young child was buckled in on the passenger side.

A Good Samaritan

“Ya doin’ OK today?” she asked.
“Doin’ pretty well and how about yourself.”
“I’m fine. But, are you okay?” she asked again.
(Good Samaritans seem to appear more often the deeper you get into rural Oklahoma.)
“Oh yeah, I’m fine!” I’m looking for a good spot to photograph the Milky Way later tonight. At 11:38, it’s going to be lined up directly above that large pile of boulders.”
She smiled real big, “I love looking at the stars out here. We just live in the house right over there. It’d be really dark at my house if I had a switch to turn off that yard light. But ya see where those cows are up on top of that hill? It’s really dark at night up there. We own that land, too. “

I asked if it would bother them if a friend and I were to be out here taking pictures at that time of night. She said it wouldn’t and added she’d tell her son we were going to be out there and what I would be doing. I thanked her. Chances are real good he owns a rifle, and’s a good shot, too. After saying, “Bye”, and pulling away, I drove on down the road to the top of that hill to have a look. I’m glad I did! The land flattened just the other side of that hill and I could see darn near forever. This is a great spot if it’s really dark.

A Country Night

Later that night Waylen and I stopped atop that hill, unloaded our gear, and set up shop. We drank coffee and waited. Standing atop the hill we peered through the darkness toward lights scattered along the circumference of the horizon in the distance, some thirty miles, some forty, some even farther. We listened to the silence, broken only by the occasional yelp of coyotes hunting across the darkened landscape. We inhaled deeply smelling the scents of the night and filling our lungs with its freshness. Standing there we absorbed the peace, the serenity, and thanked God for His blessings.

And she was right, “It’s really dark at night up there!”

Carl Ray