Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Twilight Nocturne…

When the sun sinks into the turquoise depths of the lake and darkness settles over the hill, the night sounds begin. Always, the wind sings, but there are other songs in the night as well. Often we hear the coyotes cry… more “yip” than “howl” …. a choral nocturne that pierces the night. When they are quiet, and I think about the night sounds, it is wolves I hear in memory, rather than the little coyotes that inhabit our forests. What is it about wolves that haunts my psyche like no other creature? If cats are the wee bits of luxuriant, purring, comfort in my home and in my real life, then wolves are the companions of my dreams… the wild-hearted spirit-guides in solitary moments of contemplation.

The pacing of the timber wolves in a local zoo tugs fiercely at the ribbons of my heart. You can’t see these ties of empathy and kindred-ship, but they hold me entrapped at the cage that confines these restless spirits. Years go by when I cannot force myself to go back to the zoo, fearing the ache that will linger in my heart long after I’ve gone.

When my daughters were small, I read to them the native American story of The Jumping Mouse. This story came to life in my mind, inspiring me to write several simple songs to accompany the story. I then retold the story, in my own words, many times to eager up-turned faces and intently listening ears. Every once in a while, I pull out those sheets of quickly scrawled lyrics and rough chord structures and let my “wild heart” cry with the wolf in the story, who has lost his sense of smell. My sense of smell is intact. I can smell dinner simmering on the stove and the scented candle that flickers on the table… but perhaps my heart cries for some other loss… something I can’t quite define. The wolf in the story has lost a vital sense for a wild creature, but I always imagine that wolves today are crying for the loss of their Wild Places. Am I, as well?

During a long walk with Haiku through the “Enchanted Forest” at the end of our road, I wrote this poem to the rhythm of our footsteps:

I’d like to walk into
one of the deep secret places in the world,
so softly that the wild things could not hear me.
I would sit and breathe their wildness,
into my lungs,
into my being…
so that when I walked back out again,
I would be new and changed,
and something wild would flicker in my eyes.

A few counties over from here, wolves now wander through fields and forests that they have not roamed in many, many years. I try not to wish too hard for their presence in our own county, since these predators would be a hardship for the small farms that still survive here. But can I help it if I hear, mingled in the twilight nocturne of coyote chorus and rushing wind, the sweet keening of a wolf? Though the wolf-song I hear is only imagined, I sing along: “The wild heart of a wolf cries to the night. Senses are alive with sounds of delight. But, oh… my wild heart cries tonight.”


Post Script:

A dear friend, who has a very strong affinity for wolves, recently had a very personal encounter. She wrote about it in her blog: http://rapunzelscastle.blogspot.com/2006/09/laloba.html

One more note: I loved this eNature.com article on “Creatures of the Night” which arrived in my email box just as I was working on this post about wolves: http://enature.com/articles/detail.asp?storyID=379

Sunset photo by Haiku, 2005


Anonymous said...

Oh, Aisling, your words are absolutely breathtaking! What a wonderful way for me to start my day, reading about such beauty.

Thank you for sharing the link to my blog, I'm so glad that my story resonated with you. We do share the passion for La Loba, my friend.

Aisling said...


Thank you for reading! I loved reading about your experience at the Wolf Sanctuary, and can't wait to hear more when you go back!

your kindred spirit,

Anonymous said...

I really liked your poem. It was beautiful.
God bless.

Aisling said...


Thank you so much! That poem kind of "wrote itself in my head" while we were walking, then I had to keep saying it to myself over and over so I could remember it until we got home and I could write it down. With this memory, there was no chance that it would just come to me again! :)

Anonymous said...

For me, coyotes are the sound of terror, of fear. This is because we lost two cats to them. Now our cats do not go outdoors.
your friend, Nan

Aisling said...

Nan, I'm sorry if I provoked sad memories for you! I sure love my kitty-friends. I have one sitting on my shoulder as I write this to you.

There is a fierce side of nature as well... wild nature and human nature. It is hard to look at that part of nature, when one would rather just see the beauty, isn't it?

switchtech said...

Awesome writing! The words sing and dance off the page and swirl around our heads - we witness rather than read your words.


Aisling said...

Thank you, big brother! What a nice comment! Glad you stopped by my quiet country house! :)

Anonymous said...

"Nan, I'm sorry if I provoked sad memories for you!"

Not at all, Marcie. I know a lot of people like the sound, and I understand that, but as I said, it isn't a beautiful sound to me. Our cats all live indoors now, so the danger is past, yet on a still night I awaken with a pounding heart when I hear them.

Aisling said...


Thanks for stopping by again! I can completely understand your response. Sounds and scents bring memories back to life. I'm really glad your cats are indoors with you!