Thursday, August 18, 2011

Still evening

If anything is as still as a summer evening, I can’t think what it might be. Spring weather is so variable that a still evening is rare. Fall evenings are gorgeous though often come with a northwest breeze or the slow but continuous dropping of a leaf or two or twelve. Winter evenings are dark so quickly that who really knows?

A still summer evening can last for hours, the light changing minutely, minute by minute. It’s easy to lose an entire evening just sitting and watching the evening change. Nothing much seems to happen but it’s a joy to sit and watch the day end and the night deepen. Some days I wish I could just sit and watch the day end every evening. I can feel my pulse slow and muscles relax. Even the sounds of the forest slow and become fewer. The nighttime sound of cicadas eventually take over, beginning before the last of the day’s sounds have ended, overlapping for a few brief moments.

I always listen for the first call of one of the local owls. Sometimes the call is from a great horned owl, sometimes from the screech owl. I almost never hear both calls on the same evening. The great horned owl is almost always distant. The screech owl can be either close or further up the mountain. Even when that call sounds as though it is right next to me, I’ve never been able to locate the bird in the thick forest, and it never stays nearby for long.

I’ve heard people say that the sound of a train in the distance gives them a sense of all being right with the world. I can understand their thinking, but for me it’s the first evening call of an owl. Last night it was the screech owl, this time not close but far up on the mountain, the sound carrying a long ways down the hill to my cabin and me.


Darcy said...

Great post! Your words took me right to your cabin listening for the call of the owl while the evening slowly turned to night.

Scott said...

A lovely paean to a summer evening. Just a tiny note, though. The katydids, not cicadas, rule the late evening/early night.

Carolyn H said...

Darcy: Thanks!

Scott: You're right. it's just that I can't hear the difference. They all sound alike to me.

Woodswalker said...

What a serene vision you present us with, both visually and with your words. So calming! Thanks for this.

Cathy said...

Interesting you find summer nights still and I find it alive and noisy. For me, winter's night with a full moon above is the perfection of stillness.