Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Heart 'n throat



"You..want..a..piece..of..ME?!"

I remember when I was down in the Cape a few years ago during a late Spring weekend. After bicycling late into the evening--around 9:30ish--I was returning to a friend's cabin in Eastham, when on a whim--I am known to get a lot of whims--I made a brief detour to Great Pond. The moon was out and there were no clouds. The night was a curious white. A cool breeze trickled out of the surrounding pitch pine forest and moved perceptively over me. And other than the soft sound of an occasional pine cone dropping to the ground, it was quiet. I left my bicycle near the docks and walked toward the forest (there is a dim trail in Wiley Park that seems to be popular with dog walkers). As I approached the forest edge, the pines started looming before me, hardly moving and almost fantastical in their pale, gnarly appearance under the moonlight. In a matter of minutes, guided by an almost full moon, I arrived at Herring Brook road--see map below. I stood there for a while recalling with satisfaction that most of the roads in the Cape did not have streetlights. Then I turned around and started back on the trail. It was quiet. Very quiet except for the soft whisper of the wind through the leaves and the murmur of a nearby stream that I could not see. Then right above my head, a shrill:

"Sssriee"

I jumped!

And, boy, I must have jumped like 3 feet into the air. Had an NBA selector been around, he would have wanted to discuss options with me. As you might have guessed by now, it was a common barn owl :) He was probably tree-hopping. I stood there with my heart pounding loudly while the bird quickly receded into the darkness somewhere in front of me.

"fff fff fff"

I finished walking back to my bicycle and mournfully pedalled back to the cabin, a long mile away.



Click map for a bigger map.