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AJûuJd±lQmeland John Hay What I wanted to do was follow the year around, recognizing that hours, days, months, or years are as elusive as unseen atoms (even though, universal law being consistent, we deduce their behavior with some success). I am not sure where July left off and August began. Summer flies away from me, like an unknown bird. Out into August then, while there is time. When I step into it as if into something new, I sense thousands and thousands of roving lives, taking their opportunities where and when they can. The day is hot and shining. The oak leaves, no longer fresh and young, but spotted with growths, chewed by insects, frayed and scarred, are still tough, deeply green, harnessing the sun, under a stir and slide of air. Two big red-tailed hawks sail high overheard, screaming constantly. A blue jay screams, in a fair likeness. The hawks wheel lower down among the trees, inside the horizon. Then two little tree sparrows flit by. Insects drone, stir, and buzz. There is a dragging, rattling sound of leaves as a box turtle moves slowly along. A cicada chorus rises like a sudden breeze from the southeast and then subsides. Two black and white warblers go through the cover of the woods in a quick butterfly flight together. The "Tock! Tock!" of a chipmunk sounds behind a brush pile, almost like the end notes of a whippoorwill's song. I feel a balance in space between them all: the roamers, hawks, or gulls, in the sky's great allowance; the spider swinging on a thread and making its own web of a world; colorful, elusive warblers through the trees; the chipmunk on its chosen ground. These sounds, synonymous with motion, seem to hold them in mutual alliance, round in a lightness of air that is strict and easy in its coming and release, like the cicadas; but there is an intensity here that makes my heart beat faster. A jay jumps down to a branch, cocks, its crested head, with those black eyes full of readiness, and brays. The spider wraps up a captured moth with rapid skill. A robber fly waits on a leaf with throbbing 141 Ecotone: reimagining place abdomen and a look of contained vitality. It is not to be known. I see the brown, glazed wings folded back in the sunlight, and two black, skylight eyes on top of its head. It seems preternaturally lean. It stays there for ten minutes and I watch it closely, almost suspended with it in my attention. A robber fly is a tough predator, but to call it cold, indifferent to pain, careless of life, darkness personified? Our terms are useless. I do not know. Then my attention is cut, as it abruptly darts off, swinging in an arc, perhaps to catch a housefly a hundred feet away. In the buzz, the running light, the stir of summer, I feel as if each motion, each event had its own pressing concern. This homeland, no longer graced with the name of wilderness, is full of wild, unparalleled desire. Everyone knows that the month of August is loaded with insects, although they come under the heading of "bugs," a menace to human society. Their fibrous trills are incessant in the grass. Their high, shrill sounds announce the heated air. Those two species that we hate more than most, just for their familiarity, the flies and mosquitoes, drone around us. In the heat of noon our senses are a little clouded. We may be mumbling something about "the will of life be done," and it is being done ... in great part by the insects. The summer rage to take and to share in taking is carried out in minute detail, from the tiniest mite in the soil to the dragonfly. Manifest energy, using its short summer span, fills our surroundings with its wealth of insects. It has not been long since I was taught the modicum of knowledge needed to name a few of them, to start in on a fraction of the 680,000 species that fill the earth; but it was enough to add to my sight...


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pp. 141-145
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