Fumbling in the Dark
April 15, 2020 | View PDF
Owls have amazing eyesight and night vision. They lurk in trees at night, look below them, see a dark rodent running across equally dark ground, swoop down, and unerringly make a catch. Wow, talk about the ability to see in the dark.
I wish I had it so good. My eyes have never provided me with crystal clear sight. My daylight vision leaves a lot to be desired, never mind navigating at night. I can’t blame this on older age, because even as a child, I never saw particularly well whatever the time of day. Darkness and shadows really presented problems. I had difficulty distinguishing objects in the dark, and I tended to crash into whatever happened to be in my path rather than successfully maneuver around these obstacles. Judging distances after sunset also could not be called one of my strong points.
Now that I am a woman of a certain age, the situation has gotten completely out of hand. In spite of bifocals and handy dandy little prisms in my glasses that are supposed to properly align my eyes, so the left one doesn’t roll up while the right one rolls down (yes folks, my eyes resemble those of Bozo the Clown, you know, where his eyes roll around in their sockets at random, and he looks totally, well, clownish). I still can’t read fine print without a magnifying glass. Thanks to the prisms, a straight line doesn’t look straight when I stare at it dead on, I can’t hang a hat without missing the peg unless I stand directly in front of the cursed hanger, I look down when I walk because otherwise I trip over pebbles, twigs, and other innocuous looking objects in my path. I figure a bear will eat me before I realize he was standing in the path in front of me, looking for a scrawny little old lady to munch on. Most distressingly, I really can’t see at all in the dark.
I really notice this poor vision when driving after sunset, a daunting proposition that I avoid at every possible opportunity. I can’t see anything but blackness all around me, and judging distances becomes impossible. After I drive awhile after dark, I sometimes think I see movement along the side of the road. These ghostly shadows I see flickering along the side of the road could be lurking deer just waiting to commit suicide and ruin my truck in the process, or perhaps what I think I see in reality doesn’t even exist, or maybe these objects are fence posts, or perhaps axe murderers, waiting for me to stop my vehicle and investigate. I have no idea. I just know I can’t see well enough to feel comfortable driving in the dark.
Oncoming lights from other vehicles add to the confusion. Blinded by the light would be an understatement. I sometimes feel I’ve landed in one of Stephen King’s horror novels. You know, surrounded by alien beings determined to mess with us mere mortals, peppering us with eerie lights, shadows, and unwelcome distortions and unnerving movement.
Snow and blowing snow compound the problem, convincing me that I really do not have to leave home after dark for any reason whatsoever. Actually, I won’t drive in snow or blowing snow during daylight hours if I can possibly avoid it, and I generally make sure I can avoid it. Driving in snow and blowing snow at any time of the day or night makes my eyes cross and I cannot focus properly, just one more reason why I decide to stay home and toss another log in the wood stove. I’d rather watch the snow than try to navigate a vehicle through it.
Walking my dog after dark has also become somewhat of a daunting proposition. Stones, twigs, and numerous other objects all lie in wait for me, licking their chops in anticipation of sending me into a spill or stumble of some sort or another. My dog can disappear into the blackness of night within two steps, and it is only by the sound of her dainty footsteps or her excitement at discovering a rabbit in the vicinity that I can figure out her location.
Even in the house, under artificial nighttime light, when I drop something on the floor, I have to find it by feel rather than by spotting it with my peepers. My eyes just don’t work the way they used to or the way they are supposed to.
I’ve accepted the fact that I will never be Eagle Eye Fleagle; I never was, and I never will be. I know it will take me more time to accomplish a task after dark, I know I make appropriate arrangements so I don’t need to slide behind a wheel after sunset, and I stick to known walking routes after dark. I know my eyesight will not improve in this lifetime. As my eye doctor so kindly reminded me a few years ago when I complained bitterly about my inability to read fine print, I’m not getting any younger, and eyesight does diminish with age. So, I guess I can shut up about it and just make the adjustments I need to make in order to continue to function after the sun goes down.