• Shana Ritter

The Wild

I reside in the shelter of a house with all the conveniences, but I still live in the country. I share my geography with deer, turkeys, eagles, owls, hawks and vultures, woodpeckers, cardinals a multitude of other birds, bats, ticks and snakes and coyotes. I am not quite sure who lives at the bottom of the pond but the snapping turtles like to take the sun on the opposite shore from where we swim. 

I am grateful for this profusion of life (well maybe not the ticks so much). I value the daily reminders that the land is shared.  But I have been noticing changes, over the last five years especially. There are diminishing numbers of, monarch butterflies and the blue swallowtails.  The whip or will no longer circles in the mid night claiming his territory. The barn owl lost the old barn a few years ago and in the months following we would hear its call from coming from different directions, and then nothing, and never again. Each year there seem to be fewer bumblebees, blue birds, orioles.  As children my daughters would chase fireflies through the dusk and darkness, now I can easily count the flickerings, there are so few. The lights coming from the direction of town are brighter, the stars dimmer, the constellations harder to discern.

Then there was last night, the full moon was not yet above the tree line, the sky was a molten blue. Last night the coyotes broke the sky wide open. It was a tremendous clamoring, a raised crescendo, a declaration. It has been years since I have heard them that close, that loud. A witness to wildness, it made me reverential, and happy, full of sound, and the possibility of words.

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