Saturday, September 23, 2006

Night falls fast

This time of year a walk at dusk has to be quick and timely. It takes me a while to get used to the change from the long evenings of summer, so tonight, as often happens, I was late getting out, and after a comparatively brisk walk around the fields (half an hour instead of the usual hour-and-a-half), came home in the dark.

The fields were full of birds I couldn't see, making calls that, for the most part, I couldn't identify. Yes, there were robins, and sparrows of some kind, but were those other "chuckers" cardinals, and what about those other, more mysterious calls? I let it go for the pleasure it is to be out there surrounded by sound in the misty gloom.

I flushed a cottontail as I walked--reminding me of just how little I can see at dusk. It was apparently sitting in the open when it made its dash. I was quite close and could see that white puff of tail bounding away, but if it had sat tight, I would never have seen it. I wouldn't be able to see a coyote in that light either, as I learned a few years ago. A neighbourhood dog whose home backs onto the fields used to be "at large" sometimes, and when it was it felt responsible for the whole area. If the dog was loose and I came out to walk it would follow me the whole time, at a distance, barking. I call the dog Berkeley, after the Bishop Berkeley (1685-1753), whose metaphysics is based on the precept, "esse est percipi," i.e., to be is to be perceived.

Berkeley is a German shepherd (or Alsatian) cross, so has the same basic colouring as the local coyotes. One fall evening Berkeley was out keeping pace with me, barking so that I could be certain of my existence, when he/she disappeared. There was still enough light that I could walk comfortably, and see my destination easily. But I could no longer see one loud brown dog against the earth and dead grasses just 15 metres or so away. Kinda spooky.


John said...

With a sunset around 7, we still have some evening light here. But it is disappearing rather quickly, unfortunately. The cooler weather that I enjoy comes with fewer hours to enjoy it.

Lynne said...

It is kind of strange in that bit of time right before dark. I often feel unsure of what I can and cannot see when light is rapidly fading. Magical, but I agree- kinda spooky.

Pamela Martin said...

John: I too enjoy tbis season--cooler (though we had a more moderate summer than you did), and I especially enjoy no mosquitoes or deer flies!

Lynne: It is magical--that's why I sometimes end up out until full dark--can't tear myself away.