Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer Days

In every way, I can feel that summer has arrived on the mountain. The temperature and humidity are just a small part of it. Evening brings cooling temperatures and legions of lightning bugs, blinking like miniature flashes of lightning throughout the darkened woods.

Birds of many species fly until it is too dark for me to see—unlike in winter when the last half-hour of semi-daylight is already a quiet time. Now, chimney swifts fly until I can barely see them, recognizing them only by their distinctive “flying cigar” silhouettes. Wood thrush and ovenbirds call long after the sun has set. Phoebes and, especially, pewees will even call after dark, a soft and haunting coda to the day.

The air smells warm and carries the lush scent of the summer forest, so different than the fresh earthy scent of spring. Summer’s scent is rich and heady, almost like an expensive perfume applied just a tad too heavily. The dogs point their noses into the air and sniff, and would no doubt be able to tell me many secrets, if only they could.

The wind, when it blows, is usually from the south or southwest. In winter the prevailing wind is most often from the north or northwest. As often as not, the trees are still, and flags hang limply, as though moving is simply too great an effort, even for them.

Moving becomes an effort for the animals too. Dog and Baby Dog loll around, obstacles to be stepped over and tripped on. Forest animals are hardly better and seem reluctant to startle. The groundhog that lives at the foot of the lane watches warily as I walk past—but doesn’t dart down his hole. Rabbits bounce easily ahead of me, then hunker by the side of the lane, perhaps in hopes that I won’t walk closer so they can continue whatever adventure they were pursuing.

It’s a quiet time in many ways. The last migration is over and the next is not yet near. The territorial disputes are settled. Night closes in and the day ends.

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