November 14th, 2005



An early dog walker passes, braving the chilly pre-dawn air. I've been out listening for the birds to return, in hope that if they should, there might be enough light by which to see them. Last night I heard them flying north. Though the moon was nearly full and the sky clear, and they flew quite low, the light was insufficient to expose them to view. Their calls, though, were clear and raucous. They were some species of waterfowl, and they must have been heading for the mountain lakes to do some night fishing in the bright moonlight. When they had passed from earshot, the night was still, and I realized that the last cricket was not chirping, even though the evening was fairly mild. The persistent orthopteroid may at last have succumbed to age or to the advancing year. Of course, he has on recent occasions been silent for to or three nights in succession and then returned to surprise me. I've enjoyed hearing the lingering voice of vanished summer. If it is finally gone, I'll miss it.


The cricket lives! He only chirped for about twenty minutes, and then a stiff breeze rose and his song was drowned out by the sound of rustling and skittering leaves. By the time the the wind had ceased, he had fallen silent. The afternoon was uncommonly balmy, but the night will cool rapidly. The moon is almost full, and is crowding so close to Mars that the red planet has been all but drained of its color, so that at a glance it appears to be an ordinary blue-white star. I had to stare at it for a minute to see the faint pinkness. But so high and bright is the moon that Mars is the only other light to be seen at all in that section of the sky. A few scattered stars are visible in the west, but even they are dimmed.

It isn't helping that the porch light of the long-vacant house next door is lit. I'm sure that someone has moved in at last. I haven't seen any furniture moved in (it might have happened gradually, over the last couple of weeks, during hours that I was sleeping), but there is a car parked in the driveway. The porch light burned all last night, too. So far, there hasn't been much noise coming from the place, but I find the light annoying. It will be even more annoying once the mulberry tree has lost all its foliage, and quite destructive of the nocturnal atmosphere on moonless nights. At least there's no yappy dog. Not yet, anyway. Well, it was a nice few years of neighborlessness. Nothing good lasts forever.