The cat curls quietly on the carpet, exhausted from batting at moths through the balcony window. She sits, sighs and shifts at the sound of the doorbell from the next door neighbor.
Outside is black, dark, but peppered with orange cones of light that reminds nature there still lies an acre or two of parking lot amid the trees of the nearby park.
Not that the apartment towers go unnoticed, either; but, at least, without the street lights, there might seem to be the illusion that we sit on islands of man in the darkness of the forest. The rise and fall of wheels on pavement from the nearby highway lay soft, constant waves upon our shore. Without the lights, it just might work. Okay, without the lights and sporadic sounding of car alarms, it might work.
Earlier in the day I was running in the woods—well, nearby the woods. My affinity for picking up Lyme disease from Maryland ticks keeps my interest in frolicking at bay. I run, instead, on the paved road that encircles the national park, touching on the different picnic areas and campsites. I have a route that lets me log three or four miles in two or three laps—too routine for roommate Adrian. He prefers the trails. I prefer the known distance and pacing, but to each his own.
As stated, I was running, hugging the left side, along the painted white line. Surrounding me was the veil of nature, the border of the forest, past which lie all manner of greenery, buzzing wings, and strands of cobwebs. Acorns too! as they fell pitter-patter on the street around me.
Squirrels abounded, they scampered every few feet, no doubt a fan of the falling acorns. They didn’t seem too phased at this dude passing by. I’d also see deer here and there. They’d look and continue to munch on the grass. I stayed on my road, they stayed on theirs—imperceptible to me, but nonetheless.
The wind often blew these days. I don’t know if there is a season for breeze in Maryland, but the summer seemed a bit stifling—stuffed, humid air with no movement, no wind. Now, on the cusp of autumn, the branches sway again. Glorious.
The shimmer—the soft shimmer of the leaves in the afternoon breeze caught up scents of woodland floor—earth, leaf and twig. I’d run, a pat-pat-pat of my rubber feet against the black, unmoving worm of tar and pavement that wound through the forest.
I’d seen the maps. This pocket of forest in the park was rare. The city was far larger. But, for its, part, there was no visible protest from nature concerning the state of things. There was only the days errands to be run by the small animals of the woods. They stayed in their space and I in mine.
As I turned the final bend and started upwards toward my starting/finishing point, I came across a large flock of birds, who began to take flight from under the canopy and through the woods. They were black, darting shadows from the shaded forest floor. They startled me a bit with their hurried fluttering, flying through the trees, parallel to me. Up ahead they began to cross the road, breaking through into man’s path before disappearing in the woods on the opposite side. For a moment, I paused, my way blocked. Some of the birds let out a more-than-expected disturbing croak, damaging my calm. For a moment, I felt unwelcome.
Damn birds. Thank you Alfred Hitchcock.
Sometimes I wonder if nature has some fight left in it. It seems all but beaten here in the states. Maybe its claws aren’t so much made of industry, engineering and enterprise; but, instead, of time and persistence. Maybe, someday, there won’t be any lights, and the towers will seem like an isolated pocket among the reclaimed forest. Who knows?