|Night Life: Prionus Root Borer (Prionus spp., likely P. californicus)|
|Night life. Probably a Cottonwood Stag Beetle (Lucanus mazama)|
Another Esbat careens through time, leaving me mentally & logistically unprepared.
For our people, this is generally the Mushroom Moon, time for frenzied harvesting & Full Moon Mushroom Shrine construction. And it still is, but I feel a compulsion to take a moment out to talk about recent lessons from the Night Dwellers.
In these modern times, we occasionally hear the phrase, "No one knows their neighbours anymore..."
But did we ever?
I am not an early hominid, so I cannot say. Maybe way back when, we at least knew more about who is palatable & who to avoid & who will lead you to something you might want to forage...
Because of the cooler temperatures, we worked very hard into the evening in the High Desert. Sometime in the last month, whilst surrounded by the teeming life of dusk, twilight & nightfall, I realized that I knew of some of our neighbors, but never really took the time to know them. Especially the Night Dwellers.
|Female Field Cricket (Gryllus spp.)|
When we humans think of the denizens of the Night, we tend to think of crickets, fireflies, owls & bats. But rarely to do I hear mention of beetles. Yet hoardes & hoardes of beetles emerge from the underworld every night to stalk the earth in search of... food? adventure? love?
I don't know what they are doing, but every night I watched them -- they abandon their holes to wander under the starry cloak of the Night mother Nyx, to bask in the varying shades of Lady Moon.
Prionus Root Borer (Prionus spp., likely P. californicus) burrows.
And sometimes they died.
And this is when I find their desiccated frames, shining in the morning light & I can take a moment to try to understand what it might be like to stalk the shadowy world in a very different body...
But they move so quickly.
Such busy business to be a beetle. What are they doing?
This is the question we could ask of all our Night neighbors because we really, really do not know them.
And this brings me to the poetry for this beetle-pondering, Night Life honouring Esbat. I love this piece. It is a personal encounter with the nocturnal neighbourhood, a world which continues about its business, "... proceeding whether we observe or not..."
Night Life by Vivian Smith
Disturbed at 2 a.m. I hear a claw
scratching the window, tapping at the pane,
and then I realise, a broken branch,
and yet I can’t turn back to sleep again.
Slowly, not to wake you, I get up,
thinking of food, perhaps a quiet read.
A cockroach runs across the kitchen floor,
its lacquered shell as quick and dry as seed.
Outside the chalice lily lifts its cup
in adoration to the mirrored moon,
full of purpose as it trembles there,
collecting drops of moisture on its spoon.
Noises of the night, it’s all alive,
birds shifting in the steady trees,
slugs and snails eating fallen flowers,
a moth freighted with fragilities.
Nocturnal life, the other side of things,
proceeding whether we observe or not,
like rows and rows of brown coastal ants
transporting food from here to another spot.
To listen to this piece read by the author, visit "Night Life" at The Poetry Foundation.
Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.