As I stepped out the door, I was basked in gentle starlight and moonlight. Looking east, a group was illuminated by the flames of a bonfire, their voices being carried in the wind. Quickly heading west down the driveway, beast and I were on a mission, which now follows, without interruption
Dead silence as I stood in place hopefully eyeing the North Star as I often did in days of yore. My will followed it and the Big Dipper gave a big “hello!” Smiling to my private thoughts, the occasional traffic on Route 1, a half mile north as the crow flies, kept interspersing the silence. It was a lot more than it used to be. Progress!
The dog and I were guilty of our own perpetual sound; tap, tap, tap of nails on the asphalt and my own footfalls in unison. As I kept peering overhead, the bright half moon kept just ahead of me, the stars changed their locations accordingly. I now thought how I had been out earlier and seen my first male Pileated Woodpecker. Actually, I had heard him first, no doubt a mating call. Perhaps I should try that. Then he appeared between the pines. He was magnificent! This was one big boy, with a long, thick bill and a crest on his head. I immediately thought about how closely he resembled the Ivory Billed, when he landed on the trunk of what remained of a tree that had broken two snows ago. Seeking a better look, I retraced my steps. He was peeking at me and calling loudly at the same time. I can’t even describe the vocalization, as I’d never noticed it before today. He allowed the admiration, though short, then returned to the area between the pines. Yes, I was impressed.
I stood for the moment, replaying what I had just been privy to, then my mind went back four days prior. That was the day that I had seen three Common Loons emerge from under the bridge at Whitten-Parritt Stream. It was two males and a female, no babies atop her back, for it was still too early. They all swam with the current, and when they reached the ice dam(which had melted considerably over the past couple of days), they took flight to follow what was left of the stream to the ice covered inlet. Even today, very little remains of the ice dam.
We continued on our walk, the traffic much louder than we had begun, now hearing the rubber compress as the cars passed over cracks in the roadway. The water‘s sound passing over the rocks at Whitten-Parritt Stream was now within earshot, and I was now under that high moon, the stars still with me, right in front of the old Ayer’s house. It was very worn, getting tired, having seen many better days. I took a whiff of the wood being burned in its furnace, and closed my eyes for a moment. I recalled the old campground store that used to be across from the house, on the opposite side of the driveway.
There used to be an old treadle-operated stone grinding wheel that sat out front, that Ken Ayers used to sharpen his axes with. The stone was first wet with water, then rotated while the ax's head was sharpened with the moving wheel. Water was applied periodically to the stone while it sharpened the steel. Years later, I would play with the apparatus pretending that I was using it to sharpen something.
As I continued on my nightly trek almost to the stream, the traffic was as loud as it was going to get. Then I turned my attention to the rushing water over the rocks. The smell of the water filled my nostrils, the moon was smiling down at me, and I could see the ice dam in its grinning glow. The white ice and snow glistened in the light of the moon, and as I stood there, I could barely discern the outline of the pine leaning down across the left banking, trying to reach the other side.
Things tend to change over the passage of time, I thought, as I passed the Ayers’ house again. The light emanated through the curtains, ever so softly, that being the only sign of life within.
When I reached the dirt drive where part of the campground originally used to be, I heard the familiar honking of a group of night fliers. Yes, spring was here, for they were heading for Canada. That was their home and the southerly climate was unable to keep its hold on them. They were heading home instinctively, just as I did. With the passage of the right amount of time, all animals return to whence they have come, take a mate, and raise their respective families. It is all a part of the circle of life. Instinct is truly a guiding and strong force that cannot be reckoned with, for it will always win. It is just better to go with it and be lead to one’s destination. In the long run, everything will work out as it should.