Last weekend I drove south to Manzanita, Oregon to join my sister and her family for a long weekend of Northwest Beach-y exploits. My son was with them already, and I peeled in at 11:30 p.m. after working all day, battling traffic to get out of the Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia corridor, then navigating winding state highways toward the coast as dusk fell.
At one point, I stopped along the Columbia River just outside the town of Skamakowa, to stretch my legs at the wildlife refuge along the highway. Clouds and rain shadow obscured what would otherwise be the long twilight of June this time of year, so the blue light of the hour was especially dark, but not yet nighttime.
As I slammed the car door and walked to the darkened visitor's kiosk, overgrown and silhouetted against the sky, silence invaded my ears. Then I started to hear the nighttime sounds of the riparian region: hermit thrushes making their flute-like vocalizations from the nearby trees; native frogs singing; some bovine or elk bellowing from across the field out ahead, and most close by, the twittering of a little brown bat nursery.
I'd caught sight of the bats circling around me already in the twilight, and when I reached the visitor's shelter I heard the babies bleating for their mothers overhead; there was a roost in this lesser-visited structure, and bats happily raising babies in the eaves of its roof.
I peeked through the blind opening and met the direct gaze of two white tailed doe, as startled as I was by our meeting. We stared at each other for minutes, not moving, with the twittering bats and melodious thrushes as our only disturbance, and I can say it was total bliss from my perspective.
This nature fix sustained me on the rest of my drive in darkness to the coast.