For the splendor of the whole creation, and the beauty of this world......"
-from the Vesper prayer in Venite by Robert Benson.
Come walking with me, you won't be sorry.
Listen to the birds; they are having their nightly ruckus, each one telling every one else good night or fussing about who is on whose branch or… what? What are they fretting about, every single night? Robins, song sparrows, the occasional irate killdeer, red-winged blackbird, each one chiming in, weaving around us a song we can never sing for there are no words. Listen to the children giggling, murmuring. A little hat-clad Amish toddler and his older sister follow their Mam and the wheelbarrow. Amish kids get dirty too, so dirty, playing in damp soil and mulch. Mam will have no trouble keeping track of who still needs scrubbed!
Click. I snap a few pictures, longing to capture misty mountain mystery and sky beauty. It is so lovely.
We slip up the mountain road, ambling through shades of gray. It will soon be truly dark, but we don't need to be afraid here. The sounds are friendly sounds, familiar, almost familial. The birds are quieter now, settled, at peace. Me too. And you? A deer silently retreats from the woodland meadow to the safety of the shadows, at least until we pass. (Maybe you should stay, since he can't see you…) I realize it's been weeks since I've heard an owl, but then the bob-white whistles, and it is enough. My ear suddenly detects a raspy buzzing call; a woodcock is nearby. I've never seen him, but I'd know his voice anywhere. Those deer must have circled back through another neighbor's property; his geese are squawking like a burglar alarm. Oh, and have you noticed the frogs? (How could you not notice??! Perhaps the birds really aren't quieter, they are simply outdone!!) The chirping, vibrating tones of frog tunes punctuate the night quiet from every direction. Incessant is not too strong a word to describe their echoing racket. Mountainside, woodland meadow, rural residential, creekside, farm pasture…every place is a residence for their resonance.
It is time to make our way homeward. The birds are now completely silent. (But not the frogs. When do they sleep??) I hear our muffled footsteps as we retrace our path past tranquil meadows. Horses, cows, graze, munch, chomp, rest in deeply dusky pastures hung with mist. Even a cow looks almost beautiful in the gray beauty of lingering night vapors. (Okay, it is pretty dark…) A lone donkey lets fly his otherworldly shriek, and for a fleeting moment, I recall the bobcat that someone saw crossing this mountain road earlier in the year. We can hear the brook tumbling over itself, murmuring of recent thunderstorms and sudden downpours. Frogs agree in four octaves of chirps. Clouds, back lit by faint moon glow, stretch above the mountains. Alongside the road, a tall clump of silver tipped weedgrass, in full seed head, sways elegantly, and it is tempting to break off a bouquet handful. But filigree will fade in harsh morning light on kitchen window sill, and someone is sure to sneeze. So we let them here, content to have seen their secret silver glory.
We are almost home. A thin slice of moon plays hide and seek among the clouds. Venus rises above the mountain, clear, vivid, intense. The farmhouses we pass glow with warm lantern light. Families are settling for bed, morning will come earlier for them than for me. I will hear the milk pails long before light reaches its fingers through my curtainless window. The weatherman predicts morning fog; I hope he's right. It will be nice for the new day to begin like this one is ending, in mist-shrouded mystery and silvery hope. Rest well my friend, and should tomorrow be an "ordinary day," take a moment to look up, breathe deeply and listen carefully.
Because you never know what you might almost miss... -HumminB