Around this time of year, the first warm, humid days I can already feel the forest pulling me in. I spend hours there in the summer. I spend hours there in every other season too but the summer is the most primal time. It’s thick and jungly with many layers of green. The humidity falls thick like a heavy wet blanket and more than any other season its teeming with life. Insects, birds, mammals.
In the twilight even more animals are visible and the forest takes on another kind of personality. Last summer I went out there just before dark, purposely getting caught in the dark for a different experience in the woods. At times I found myself nearly terrified by the inability to see well, the unexpected and unidentified noises and the darkness. Not just darkness in the sense of being unable to see, but darkness in the sense of another kind of darkness.
Much of the deeper woods takes on a forbidden and almost hostile environment. One night I was running and hiking on the path and I could not shake the insistent whine of a mosquito in my ear, I tried to out run it but it stayed with me. More mosquitoes were biting me all over, even though I had on citronella and eucalyptus oil. It seemed like they were trying to chase me out. Deer stood instead of running, as if no longer afraid of a human. For some reason as it got dark I wanted to get out. Like humans from the beginning of history instinctively I felt fear. It didn’t take much for me to jump or speed up to escape.
Some strange magic was happening. After a few forays past twilight I felt more comfortable in the dark, never completely comfortable. On the same trail in the same spot a young male deer met me nearly every night. He didn’t bolt away even when I called him “Baby”, just stared back with interest. In another place uphill I saw a doe head bent to the ground almost nose to nose with a rabbit as if conversing. Is it always like this when the humans go away? Maybe at night-time the animals come out and talk to each other like in the Disney movies.
In nature reality seems to bend into a surrealistic experience. I don’t find it in “civilized” places. It’s special. I feel privileged to be there.