It is unseasonably cool this week, so we have turned off the A/C and opened up the windows. Our house is oriented near the top of the ridge so the breeze that comes up from the valley blows through the entire house. It brings the outside in.
In the early morning, sitting at the breakfast table, we hear bob-whites calling to one another across the glades. Cattle moan in the distance over the ridge. We can smell the wet earth of the meadows, and the sweetness of sycamores in the south stand of trees.
During the day, turkey vultures sail high overhead in lazy, aimless circles, their five-foot wingspan catching air vectors as they glide for hours in search of food. At twilight, while we sit on the Leopold bench with coffee, whippoorwills whistle back and forth to one another in the tall grass. Then, when dusk comes, the bats appear in the sky in their silent, frantic flight for mosquitoes. Lastly, the fireflies rise in their hundreds of thousands, filling the glades for acres with their incredible light show. The woods pulsate with the sound of tree frogs and insects.
But even they are eclipsed by the vastness of the stars overhead. We are eight miles from our little town, and there is no light pollution here to blot out the night sky. The Milky Way is so vast that it is like a cloud that stretches from one edge of the world to the other. I can understand why the Asian mystics compared the Tao to the Milky Way, to describe its transcendent vastness and unfathomable eternity.
How much we miss when we cocoon ourselves in our air conditioned homes!