"It seemed to me that something extraordinary in the forest was very close to where I stood, moving to the surface and discovery." - Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia
I walked in the woods before dawn this morning. It was still and clear and a blessing to watch the world wake up. Waking before dawn in early September is not like waking before dawn in June. At this point in the year, dawn comes a minute or so later each morning, and it won’t be more than another week or two before my early morning walks will need to include my headlamp.
This morning I woke up early, before the alarm, and rather than toss restlessly until it was time to get up, I decided to greet the day early. Dog didn’t seem to notice the early hour, nosing along as he does each morning, smelling all those smells that I can’t. The eastern sky was just starting to glow with red as we walked up a little two-track dirt road to reach the pond. The Canada geese, slumbering along its edge, slid off into the water, grumbling with the soft tones they use amongst each other. The pond was like glass, only marred by the small island made by the silhouette of each goose, and even the geese, somehow, didn’t make ripples in the water as they floated quietly, with a stillness of their own.
In the distance I heard the call of a great horned owl and nearer, that of the eastern wood pewee. Dog and I walked along the edge of the pond for several minutes before a few of the normally hyper-vigilant crows saw us and announced our presence to the rest of the forest.
Night’s hold on the forest wrapped it in shades of black and gray. Still dark enough to feel other-worldly in the forest, I felt like I was walking inside an old black-and-white movie. Colors didn’t exist yet, or were only hinted at towards the eastern sky.
At the far end of the pond, two deer, cropping grass at its edge, flagged and ran from us. It was still too dark for me to see more than their white tails bouncing for a few steps as they ran deeper into the woods. Dog, his nose to the ground and the wind taking our scent to them and not to him, never noticed.
As we returned home, the rest of the world was starting to awaken, though the sun hadn’t yet broken the horizon. Mourning doves, a downy woodpecker, the kingfisher, a flight of goldfinch were all on the move with the coming of the light. It was time to start the day.