To set the scene: it is just barely December 25th, around 1:30 in the morning. I’m out with Mrs. Bella Bang for that last walk before bed. We walk out past the sheltering yellow streetlights, into a narrow lane leading out into farmland. It’s dark and quiet. We don’t bother with the flashlight because we know the way, and the moonlight is just enough for us to avoid the ditch. There’s a field on our left which is generally empty during the day, though sometimes we see cows in it at a distance — brown ones, with horns (but still of the lady variety, yes). Tonight, though, they are here by the road.
We don’t even realize it at first, because they are almost silent. Mrs. Bang and I both freeze and stare into the darkness when the sighing night wind becomes a deep, breathy sigh from an animal obviously much larger than we are, very close by.