Saturday, June 9, 2012

The River by Night

I've always enjoyed taking a walk at night.
The air is still, people have ceased their busy-ness and their striving,
and the gentle darkness softens all of one's cares.

Last night my husband and I took a walk in the dark before the moon rose.
Stars were out, but barely visible in the gauzy sky.
Fireflies flickered here and there
as we made our way to the pier on the Elizabeth River.
The lights from distant houses shone in the mirror of the still, black water.
It's typically very tranquil at night on the river.

But as we walked down the pier,
an approaching boat, its green starboard light visible, skipped over the water,
sending wave after wave rolling to the shore.
Before the wake died down,
the water that had already reached shore
echoed back into the river,
and for a few moments, the wake met itself in its own return,
causing the whole river to roil and ripple.

But calm water returned and my husband decided to shine a small flashlight
 into the water to see what fish would come up.
He knows a lot about nature. Like the fact that fish will gravitate toward  light,
or the exact moment when geese will take flight over our heads.
So he shined the light into the dark water and
in a moment, tiny bug-eyed minnows swam up and played in the beam.

As we walked back, the sounds of the night grew louder.
We passed a wooded area that hides a small lake.
From the water, some frogs barked like tiny dogs,
Then another round began when other frogs chirred just like cicadas.
And then undertones of heavy croaks filled in the refrain,
like the sound of a bow being drawn across a cello.
Night music.

The composer Bartok tried to capture the sounds of night creatures
 in his orchestral compositions.
Here's a video of his "Out of Doors: The Night's Music."

It's about 13 minutes long.
Listened to with eyes closed, it is evocative of being in another world.
Sometimes, that's what we need.

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