refamiliarizing myself with the night takes only a few seconds.
orbits of acoustics and olfaction.
even though it is 2 miles away, lake superior creates a grumbling background noise. distant pulses of waves into rock.
the musk of mustellids lingers like the smoke of an extinguished candle.
the landscape is locked deep beneath snow and ice. the spring thaw has begun, but bare earth is weeks away. within pronounced watersheds, the pressure of moving water can be felt. there is nothing acoustic about it. winter groans its surrender.
twenty five years.
twenty minutes into the night, with a fog hanging close to the road, a saw-whet owl sings lazily. “hey baby…i got the goods. uh huh.”
there is no hurry on my first night back. there are no vehicles in mad transit. no ambience, save for that created by an overworked forest on a mid-march evening, when spring makes her presence known.
i think of boreals. i am unable to do otherwise.
at the top of a draw i pause, then hear the deep, booming bass of a great gray. it is heard and felt on still air.
at midnight, the winds pick up and the temperature rises 4 degrees. the fog is gone. a fox yelps, then marks his territory.
when i tuck my data sheets away, i am content. there were no boreals, but the great gray served as a reminder of the way things were.
for some reason, knowing that i don’t have to survey makes surveying all the more palatable.
at least for one night.