One of my favorite things to do in the spring is to sit on my porch as the gray fingertips of dusk settle into the night, touching each night creature beckoning their calls. As darkness creeps in with every tick of the clock, night sounds take over as daytime animals find rest.
Crickets begin their harmonious leg-rubbing symphonies, and soon tree frogs join in with their rhythmic trills. In the distance, I hear the peent, peent, peent of the nighthawk as he flies over a far-away street light. Soon I am enveloped in darkness, but I am not alone. I am in the midst of a crowd of musicians.
I am lucky. I am in close proximity to my neighbor’s pond. The croaks, calls and ha-rumphs that bellow off of the pond from every known amphibian are enormous. It sounds as if megaphones are placed around the edges and the little fellows gather round and call right into them. But nothing brings me greater joy than hearing them start up every spring and listening to them as long as I can throughout the season. I sleep with the windows full open just to hear the music.
A barred owl makes his presence known as he calls, Who-Cooks-For-You, Who-Cooks-For-You-All, his way of searching for another of his kind. From the darkness of the forest, an owl returns the call. I will never know if the two meet up. An owl’s flight is soundless. Owls have tiny barbs on their feathers to catch the air as they fly, silencing their flight. The owl is the master of the night.
Often, the wind is also silent, but on this night the wind plays its part and gently stirs the leaves; they rustle and branches sway. The breeze is cool. No bugs are out. Surely, this is one of the most pleasurable gifts we have to enjoy nature at its finest.
I hear dry leaves crackle as an animal trods through the forest floor. A raccoon, opossum, maybe even a skunk is out looking for a tasty beetle or snail to eat. The symphony does not stop for the nocturnally active; this is their time. They are used to the nightly intrusions of their music and so they continue.
My trusty dog, Belle, lies at my feet, head between her paws. She has gotten used to this nightly routine. Once in a while, she will pick up her head at an odd noise or the crackling of the leaves, but she knows she has to stay on the porch at nightfall. (She does not need to meet a skunk nose to nose!)
It has happened again. I am totally relaxed. No need for TV, or other means of media. I have the most beautiful orchestra right outside my door and it has lulled me into restfulness. I hope tonight you find the music outside your door.
Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City. Reach her at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.