The house where I am staying is a nice one, nestled among towering redwoods just north of Santa Cruz, California. I am in Scotts Valley, the place where the Suicide Squirrel Death Cult was first exposed, almost three years ago. (Three years!)
When I arrived home from a fruitless but enjoyable day of driving around, my hosts were both unavailable to entertain me, and the dogs had been exiled to the back. I set up my laptop on the dining table but soon felt the hopeful gazes of the hopeful dogs tunneling into the back of my head. The writing wasn’t going anywhere anyway, so I pulled a beer from the fridge and went out to join the banished canines.
It was a pleasant evening. I played with the dogs for a while and then leaned against the porch railing, appreciating the quiet. Quiet is different than silence, much different, and tonight’s quiet was filled with gentle sound. There is a stream that marks the back boundary of their property (as well as eating away at the property), and the still air carried the chatter of small birds. Sometimes things would rustle in the foliage back in the forest, and the dogs and I would both scan the dense brush for any sign of what might be out there.
The air, while clear, was not empty; countless winged creatures filled the canyon, darting through the sunbeams. One of those insects will appear in a story of mine someday, I suspect. While the multitude darted about in their brownian randomness, there was one, slightly larger flyer whose motion seemed to carry much greater purpose. The bug flew straight up, then after rising a few feet would freeze, wings outstretched red-gold in the slanting sun, and drift straight back down again. Up, down, up, down, the yo-yo bug continued, steering with a long tail to always be in the sunbeams. Hunting? I assumed so. Perhaps while it is drifting its prey cannot hear it coming. It was a very pretty killer.
I looked back in the window to see a cat silhouetted against my laptop screen. One of the feline residents here has an affinity for electronics. I wondered what the cat might be adding to the short story I was working on. (Later I discovered that the cat has actually removed a chunk of the story which it apparently found to be of substandard quality. Hey, it’s only a rough draft! Luckily the four-footed editor did not save her revisions, as I did not agree with all of the changes.
While the smaller dog grew impatient with me just standing there, the larger was content to hang out with me. There was much scratching of backs and rubbbing of bellies. The younger dog sent up clouds of winter fur, which drifted to form a layer, snow-like, on the deck. The birds sang, the creek babbled (happy to have someone listening for once), the land turned it’s back on the sun once again, and all was well.