The moon, a little lopsided on the top left hand corner with the full moon still two days away, rises during these twilight hours in the southeastern sky. This night is sticky, a typical high humidity evening commonplace in the month of July. The moths dance at our large picture windows attracted to the light inside our humble abode. I am on the deck on the east side of our house and a lonely song of a whip-poor-will shatters the evening silence.
There are a few bats doing their dance in the sky. They flutter their wings moving forward and then dive for a black fly or mosquito, and then fly straight on until their echo-location detects another bug that will be consumed in the blink of an eye. The bat population is so diminished, as compared to the recent past when dozens filled the night air, that several species of bats in our area are being considered for protective status. Bats by the tens of thousands have perished from white nose syndrome, a fungi that was likely recently brought over from Europe by cave explorers. One of the most beneficial mammals is on the brink of extinction due to some careless adventurers. The thought of this almost too much to bear.
A few barn swallows dart about in search of bugs. We started seeing these only a few weeks ago after many years of not seeing them at all. It occurs to me that they are filling the void left vacant by the declining bat populations. The notion of opportunism is huge in the natural world. If a gap is created in the food chain some species usually will show up to take advantage of the bounty. Time will tell if the barn swallows take on the millions of summer bugs that fill these air ways. Fewer bugs would make evening a little more pleasant.
Although the moon casts enough light so that I can see moon shadows as light passes over trees in the field to the east, it is still mostly dark. On warm summer nights I find the dark comforting. The pace of summer, oozing slowly like honey from a bee comb, can be felt on these warm nights. It is a good time to ponder the pleasantries of this warmest of all seasons, and pray to the seasonal gods for a blast of cool breeze. It is summer and still I am in love with the idea that these warm days will be few and the clear cool days of autumn are not far off!
From this deck you can occasionally hear a truck or car bounce up the old dirt road where we reside. At certain points you can see the headlights of these oncoming vehicles. They shoot light through the narrow band of woods along the road at odd angles. The light seems to bend as it tries to navigate through the woods. Vehicles might bop down this dirt road once every hour or so at this time in the evening; a minor interruption to pensive thought and philosophical meanderings.
I am thinking about an upcoming trip to northern Quebec. Soon we will undertake the long and beautiful drive north to miles and miles and miles of wilderness. The lake on which my wife and I will stay is one that I have visited before. It is in the Hudson Bay watershed and it is home to moose, eagles, wolves, loons, black bears, beaver, walleye, and northern pike, We will explore this 14 mile long lake in a small craft that comes with the cabin we have rented. We hope to catch a lot of walleye and a few northerns, but we also hope to bask in the glory of the wild and let it recharge our batteries. There is nothing like simplicity to bring renewed perspective.
Our two big hounds won’t be making the trip. They will be at home in the company of our youngest son, Liam. The dogs love Liam and they will enjoy his youthful treatment on life. The hounds will be happy for sure and we are delighted to have them in expert hands. No doubt we will miss them more than they will miss us.
In a few days I will be where my spirit belongs amongst the flora and fauna of the northern woods. This is Maureen’s first trip this far north into the deep woods of Quebec and I am really looking forward to sharing it with her. She and I have explored many places together including the back woods of the Allagash in Maine, but there is nothing like the remote Canadian boreal forest to resurrect ancient feelings that go lost in civilization. I suppose I would classify it as a religious experience for me. When I am bound to the natural world I am set free.
Most of the packing is done. Now I can conjure up thoughts of shore lunches of fresh walleye or soaring bald eagle that majestically hangs over the lake. Perhaps a bull moose, lily pads tangled and dangling off a five foot wide rack, will make himself known to us. But most of all I can’t wait to hear the laughter of a loon during the long evening twilight that glows until it almost a new day. Yep, these are fine thoughts and soon to be come a reality.
By the time you read this we will be surrounded by the great north, its brilliant blue skies, clean, cool air, three hour sunsets, the evening howl of a wolf, and laughing loons. This is heaven on earth to me. I know of nothing more beautiful or peaceful.
Written for www.wildramblings.com in July 2011.