Lust is in the air: a turkey gobbling in the field, a Cooper’s hawk calling in the woods, and right in front of me, a sunlit cloud of lekking gnats.
Clear and still. The sun clearing the ridgetop blazes through a new hole in the wall of leaves, lighting up a column of pogoing gnats.
Gnats are flying, and I think about the first insects, 340 million years before flowers—an alien earth preserved in these very hills.
The air’s so clear I can see gnats 100 feet away—bright motes wandering among the trees. Dead leaves crowd together at the end of the porch.
Bright and still. Two dozen gnats form a cloud of Brownian motion, rising and falling above a fixed point—some stone or blade of grass.
Filmy-winged gnats are blown past the porch, pale as snowflakes in the strong sun. Overhead, the fierce cries of ravens playing in the wind.
A new bloom of gnats—I saw them swarming by the back door—and the yard is full of fall warblers, foraging with the chickadees and titmice.
When I finally pay attention, what do I see? Just gnats orbiting an apparently arbitrary point in the middle of the yard. Just their wings.
High in the trees, a small cloud of gnats yoyoing up and down, backlit by the sun, while an itch grows on my hand where a mosquito drills.
Backlit by the sun against the dark woods, a swarm of lekking gnats, their Brownian motion now faster, now slower. An annual cicada’s whine.