what were the owls up to…

…in the night, so loud near the house that I woke and came down to sit in the darkness, listening? They were barreds, one calling — Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all? — and the other buzzing. I thought of Gary Snyder, who wrote so beautifully of the deep night:

Long streak of cloud giving way

To a milky thin light

Back of black pine bough,

The moon is still full,

Hillsides of Pine trees all

Whispering: crickets still cricketting

Faint in cold coves in the dark

(from “True Night”, in Ax Handles)

It wasn’t pines in moonlight I saw, but Douglas firs, and the black limbs of arbutus. And owls, not crickets. But awake, in a private place, with the moon so tangled in the far boughs that only a little of its light filtered through to where I sat by my window. And that moon! Almost full — tomorrow night’s moon is the perigee full moon,  the time when it’s  closest to the earth. A time to wake and listen, to take in the sounds and cool air, to wonder about the snap of a branch, the click just beyond the window.  Maybe the owls feel the heightened beauty of the night before the perigee too. A perfect time for hunting.

This morning I was watering tomato plants on the upper deck and I almost stepped on this sawyer beetle, newly hatched from the bark of one of those trees. I think it’s Monochamus scutellatus, the white-spotted beetle. This one was big — I took out an old wooden ruler and discovered it was 30 mm. and its antennae were another 25 mm. long.  It wouldn’t stay still for a photograph but here it is, climbing out of a dish.



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