Tag Archives: woodcock


Tonight is cool, after several sweltering days. June fireflies dance in the meadow, and young goldenrods shoot upwards. The grass is still now that the sun has set. It’s silent, until the softest breeze tickles the treetops, sends them rushing like ocean ripples on sand. The breeze blows itself out in a few seconds, and then another gentle breath flows by.

A woodcock flies by in the twilight, whistling its song as fast as its hectic wings beat. The bird is a blur in the distance, barely visible, when another blur joins it. Both dive downwards and are gone. The song is over; a companion is found.

The sky and shadowland are both still. Jupiter shines. First stars twinkle. The fireflies and one lonely cricket are holding back, staying subtle. It’s only June. August is the time for nighttime ruckus, the last hoedown of summer.

Tonight, the soft, dying breaths of wind are prelude to autumn. I’ve heard them before under cold, empty skies, full harvest moon glaring over a barren October landscape. Tree branches clink together. Leaves rustle. I shiver with cold.

But tonight it’s June. And just as February’s sunshine foretells the spring thaw, this night whispers of coming frost.




Somewhere in the darkening field is a bird in the dusk. It flies up into the navy blue sky, wings whistling, and circles back in a wide loop to the dark thicket it came from. It calls from there—a short, nasal, agitated sound. It’s a woodcock, looking for company. They fly like a mad thing if you get too close.

It would be a quiet night if the peepers hadn’t begun to sing. They’re down by the old pond, and their calls pierce the twilight. The fog I meant to photograph flows down the hill in a slow-motion river. Stars are populating the sky.


I wrap my fingers around the cool, damp legs of the tripod. It’s time to go. Yesteryear’s goldenrod stems, squashed flat by snow, blur beneath me. Thorns grab me from nowhere. Soon I’m at the top of the field, and look back.

Blinking towers. Last sunrays. First stars.


I can’t resist. I set down the tripod, barely brush the touch-sensitive screen, and wait as the eye gathers light. Click. That one was blurry. Again.

Not a week ago I’d been in the house, windows shut, and heard noise coming from outside. I flipped off the light and opened the window. Coyote howls, clear and loud. They were close to the field I’m standing in tonight, blind except when I look at the sky.

Finally, satisfied. Up go the tripod legs. I find my way home more by memory than sight, humming “Oh Susannah” to keep the shadows away. The woods are patches of darkness and ill-defined lighter areas. Sometimes I wish I had an animal’s eyes.