This morning as I was walking the dogs, I was feeling a bit disconnected from the forest around me, and wondering why since I was, at that moment, walking in the woods. For a moment or two I blamed the Shelties who were particularly full of themselves and not inclined to listen this morning. But then I realized that it wasn’t them. It was the dark.
I have reached that point of the year where I am only home and in the woods when it is dark. As a result I miss so many of the things I notice and love about the forest. Stumbling in the dark with a fading headlamp isn’t conducive to noticing what I usually see and hear.
Currently, I hear no forest birds, though occasionally a distant great horned owl calls from way up the mountain. During daylight the forest birds keep up a running conversation of what’s going on around us—the alarm calls when a hawk soars overhead, the cawing of the crow family with all their variety of vocalizations, a stamp from one of the increasingly tame deer.
I also can’t see much, even with the headlamp isn’t fading. As just once example: Have you ever noticed while walking through a wood how the dirt or mud changes as you near areas where people live? Have you noticed how the soil changes in different areas of a mountain? How the soil is different from the north side to the south side? From the top to the bottom?
None of that is possible to notice for me now in the dark. And this morning the stars were hidden by clouds, and about all I could tell about the kind of clouds that were up there was that they were blocking the stars. I miss the daylight conversations of the birds, the subtle differences in the soils, seeing the different shapes of the rocks that face the north or the south side of the mountain, the changing vegetation. Night has its charms, but perhaps not as many as daylight and certainly not to the exclusion of daylight, as my schedule dictates today. So I sighed a bit, cautioned the Shelties yet again, and walked on.