Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Backyard Naturalism: Evening (Part 2)

Sunday, April 24, 8:15-9:15 p.m.

I came out at dusk with the hope of hearing the day’s bird songs drift quietly into night, and perhaps the waking of an owl with the rising darkness. My owl-eyes were open, my ears were alert, but it seemed that most of the birds within my core observation area (my backyard) had already settled in for the night. I heard a few calls, including one crow, but they sounded at least several backyards distant, so weren’t my “regular” crowd. I could also hear Anne’s parrot screeching from inside the house behind me, but I don’t think that counts. The sound of an electric saw from the neighbor’s garage evoked one alarm call from a tree to the south in my core area, but the bird was silent again after that. I saw one or two birds flying across the sky, but for the most part the sky was empty except for moths and other bugs which seem to come out at night. The air was very still and quiet, apart from the babble of the creek, the hum of distant freeway traffic, and the occasional plane, car, or neighbor’s door closing. I uses most people around here are tucked cozily away in their homes at this time on a Sunday evening.

It was neat to sit outside as night was falling, to experience continuing vision as the light faded imperceptibly, moment by moment, until it was almost completely dark but for the lights in the windows of the houses around me. Light-colored things became white, and dark-colored things became brown or black, until eventually they all melted into each other and into shadow. Interestingly, I saw more color in the sky at 8:45 than at 8:15. At 8:15 the sky was a uniform grey, with grey clouds floating across a grey background. At 8:45 the foreground fluffy clouds had turned a salmony color, and the sky behind (which must have cleared in the intervening time) had changed to forget-me-not blue. Both colors were very dark and muted, of course (don’t ask me how forget-me-not blue can be dark and muted, it just was), and half the time I felt my eyes were playing tricks on me, showing colors that weren’t there, but I think they were. I saw the first star come out and made a wish on it. By 9:15 the sky was a deep navy and the clouds were light grey once again. I didn’t hear any owls, but it was a lovely nightfall nonetheless.

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