Eyes in the Dark

The other night, I went out to feed the horses after dark, which often happens around our house. Even if we are home before it gets dark, the horses don’t usually get fed until after the sun goes down.

On this particular night, one of the horses didn’t come up to the barn, which again isn’t all that unusual. So I went out to look for her, hoping she would come on up pretty quickly.

When I got to the big pasture, I shined my flashlight, hoping that either I would see her, or she would see my light, or both. Usually, that works. I could call them and make lots of noise, but I don’t know how well our neighbors might be able to hear that, and I wouldn’t want someone yelling and waking me up when I’m already asleep.

As I scanned the pasture with my flashlight, I saw two eyes reflecting the light back to me. But the only problem was that they weren’t horse eyes. They were too close to the ground for that.

My mind started quickly going through all the possibilities of what kind of eyes those could be. Here is the sequence I went through:

  1. Dog - Could be, but we don’t usually have many dogs in our pasture. And judging from the height of the eyes, it wouldn’t be a very big dog.
  2. Cat - Our neighbors have a cat that often wanders through our pasture. Could be that, although that cat usually runs away when it realizes it is seen.
  3. Coyote - We have been hearing a lot of those lately. So that was a definite possibility.
  4. Rabbit - Laura had seen a dead one earlier that same day. But rabbits don’t have eyes on the front of their heads like these eyes appeared to be.
  5. Raccoon - We have those out there all the time. Another strong possibility.
  6. Possum - Nope. Although we do have those, the eyes weren’t close enough together for that.
  7. Armadillo - Same as the possum.
  8. Skunk - Another strong possibility, although I didn’t smell anything. And I tried to tell myself that the eyes weren’t right for that.
  9. Fox - Probably not. But we have seen a few of them over the years.
  10. Bobcat - Same as a fox. Seen a few, but probably not this time.

The eyes stayed pretty much where they were. I tried not to continually shine the light that direction, on the chance that it might be some easily angered animal, and one thing that easily angers it is some idiot shining a flashlight in its eyes. But I did keep eventually moving my light in that direction, and it was still there. 

Finally, the horse started coming up, which meant that I could leave whatever it was there to do whatever it was doing. I never did figure out what it was. But I did figure that it probably had just as much right to be there as I did. And as long as it wasn’t bothering me or our animals, it was okay.

Still, I do wonder…

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.