Sunday, September 21, 2008
I passed by the beaver lodge today, and saw that the big male was helping out for a change by providing breakfast for the family. He swam to the opposite side of the lake to get what he wanted, and waddled up to one tree after another, being very persnickety about his choice of fare. It was amazing to see how fast he could harvest a branch as big around as my arm. It took him just a second or two to bring it down, and then he swam easily back with it, even though it was heavy with foliage that made the load four times his size. He disappeared with his prize at the entrance to the lodge, leaving nothing but a few bubbles to disturb the surface of the water. Shortly thereafter I could hear Mom and the kids inside, trilling and chomping away. He came back out and did the tail slap, as he often does when I hang around for any length of time. I don’t think he’s really alarmed at my presence, he’s just making a point: This is my territory, no loitering.
Everyone was being very chatty and active this morning. The geese were flying, the crows were arguing, and the ground was alive with crickets. Nature is moody, and today the mood was happy, buoyant—so it was especially surprising when something happened that was so weird I’m not sure I can fully describe it. I was walking along a narrow, shaded portion of the trail when a big horsefly buzzed me. Nothing unusual about that, but then a moment later I was surrounded by the hum of a huge swarm of flies. The noise blocked out all the other sounds around me, and created a vibration that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
But ... there wasn’t any swarm of flies. Just the one guy, who circled my head and flew away. I kept walking and the sound stopped as abruptly as it started. It was as if I had stepped on the other side of a curtain, and whatever I had just encountered was now hidden behind it. I stopped walking and looked all around, trying to see what it might have been, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. I considered backtracking to see if I would hear and feel it again, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I wasn’t really frightened, just a little unnerved, and the experience was unpleasant enough that I didn’t especially want to repeat it.
My grandmother would have said I met a haint. My 21st century media-soaked brain immediately categorized it as an X-Files moment. The rational me is trying to figure out whether it was some obscure natural phenomenon or simply a fleeting hallucination. I think I’ll walk that trail again tomorrow and see what happens. If I run into Mulder and Scully, I’ll let you know.
Photo by Marcin Klapczynski from Wikimedia Commons.