At Sunset


The smell of smoke lingers in the air. The slightest movement, barely enough to be called an occasional slight breeze, hints that there are fields being burned somewhere. I am reminded that it is the time of year for such maintenance.

A further investigation reveals that across the Red River, in Oklahoma, smoke has filled the sky from the east to west. The smoke has risen into the sky like some massive, dusty cirrus cloud. To the south, light from the sunset paints moisture laden clouds in various colors, while those smoky clouds to the north grow darker. Finally the sun sinks out of sight and the air becomes seemingly motionless, though there is still light to be had.

It is so quiet that one can hear the beating of bird wings as they fly to and away from the feeders for their final snack of the quickly ending day. The noise from their movement reminds me of the trill of a tongue, minus the sound from the vocal cords. Chirps abound from all directions. Far down the creek in the bottomland owls begin to hoot. For the moment it is as still as I have ever witnessed it to be here. The sounds of vehicles and pump jacks are absent this evening; there are no detectable motors of any kind. Here exists the passing of bright light as the night edges out the day.

Any moment I expect to hear the coyotes. But they are thus far silent. Rabbits are apparently enjoying their absence, hopping across the fields toward the yard. Perhaps they are seeking out what ever birdseed has been left on the ground.

Lights from communications towers some distance away have started blinking, though the security lights on various parcels of land have yet to trigger. It is getting darker, but as of yet there is still light.

I keep thinking I'll hear the dove, but none coo. The cattle, having been brought hay yesterday, have not made a sound since. The trees in the forest now become as one in the quickly building shadows and a plane stands out like a moving star in the sky. If it weren't for the hint of smoke, this might turn into a fantastic night for nearby astrophotographers. Venus already appears as bright as the part of the moon that is visible.

As I walk into the yard the coyotes finally cut loose. A few turkeys answer the coyotes’ howls with gobbles. Spring must be close if the turkey are starting to say goodnight to the sun.

As darkness continues to set in, a pair of geese remind me they are at one of the ponds. It sounds as though they are heading out for a night flight; whether to the next pond or some further distance south, I know not.

A rustle in the trees and a snort tells me there is a feral hog not so far away. Perhaps there are more, and it is they who influenced the geese to move on at so late an hour. Sitting outside in such stillness means you can hear something approaching when it moves, but it also means those somethings can hear you move.

The unaided eye of a human has never been as good as that of the nocturnals, especially beneath the reflected light of a waxing crescent Moon. Like the geese, perhaps it's time for me to retire to safer settings as well.