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Posted Jul 20 2009 11:28pm

The mosquitoes are out tonight. It seems way too dark for the mosquitoes to be still out, but I guess they are not aware of this presumptive rule. It is in any case not affecting their present behavior. Or maybe city mosquitoes stay up later than mountain mosquitoes. I'm much more used to the mountain sorts of mosquitoes.

I remember how just as the sun set they would come out in clouds so that a person could hardly stand or walk without wheeling his arms about and at the same time slapping and flapping until it felt like the little devils were going to drive you mad, and then suddenly they'd be gone as quickly as they had come, when the darkness fell and the night air cooled and the stars began to gather in clusters above. They had bedded down in the huckleberry bushes and in the clumps of bear grass, their madding hum replaced now by the plaintive croaking of bullfrogs, the intermittent plop of a trout on the lake as it jumped for a moth or a gnat, and then up on the hill, amid the trees, the buzzing of a bullbat's wings, here and gone, as if to mark the quarter hours.

And crickets, unseen, only heard, chirping so prolifically that by and by one could hardly tell whether he was still hearing the sound they were making, or hearing a general ringing in his ears. But it was not a painful thing, or a bothersome--it seemed rather like the sound that peace would make were peace to make a sound.

I remember walking once through the dark to my camp. It was a moonless night, and it was late, and the only sounds were those of my boots on the road bed, the rattling of the contents of my creel, and the crickets, the crickets, the crickets, the crickets. I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I guessed at the sides of the road according to the places where darkness became darker yet. A million suns shone overhead, a million, a billion light years away, and yet each somehow as close as a beloved companion.

I was young then, and healthy, and strong, and nearly fearless, and I made my way home step by step, patient, never doubting. I had, back then, all the time in the world.

And so now they are gone, these pesky city mosquitoes. They have vanished in the process of description--finally no more of a nuisance to me than the reading of this was to you.

I bid you goodnight,mosquitoes and stars. Goodnight to the bullfrog, to the fish, to the moth. Somewhere Andromeda winks once again, and the panoply of time remembers me. My tent comes soon, just beyond the next stone, beneath the prayerful limbs of the pines.
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