A car passes on the road to Oroville, and I watch the light of its headlamps illuminate patches of ponderosa, flickering from one tree to the next, until it is obscured by thicker growth to the south, and the sound of the engine fades into silence. But I imagine the car running down the long ridge, to where the road begins to wind along the edge of the canyon, the headlights flashing out into darkness far above the river, then turning to catch the trunks of the trees on the west side of the road. Then, below the tree line, spreading across the broad fields of dried brown grass under the swarms of bats returning home in the paling dusk of early morning.
My thoughts stretch out easily, taking in places ever more distant, like a ghost flitting among the shadows of a half-remembered world. All the movement of the night crosses my mind; the grazing deer, the prowling mountain lion, the hunting owl, the rumbling trucks, the early commuters, the aimless wanderers, the falling leaves, the smoke curling from chimneys, the breakers rolling onto the sand. But here, once the sound of the car has passed, there is no sound of movement but the faint stir of air in the trees, a single bark from a distant dog, and my breathing as I take in the night, and let it out.