Ike Adams

Ike Adams, Columnist

Last Tuesday night, for the first time in nearly six months, I raised the bedroom windows just before turning out the lights.

A gentle breeze fanned the curtains to a soft rustle, and just across the way Lowell Branch musically trickled over sandstones in its shoals. A bull frog farther upstream bellowed and was answered by another sitting on the dam at Charlie Brown’s old pond.

The neighborhood dogs must have taken the night off or perhaps they, too, were just laid back, content to enjoy this first warm night of spring without interrupting its gentle hush and pure tranquility.

I wanted very much to listen to and lengthen the perfect moment for awhile but I fell asleep almost as soon as I closed my eyes. No lullaby — no human voice nor instrumental symphony could ever calm my spirit into deep slumber as well the too-rare nature of evenings just like this.

Hours later, in the wee hours of the morning, I awakened without knowing why. The dogs were still at peace with one another and the stillness seemed no less pervasive than when my head had hit the pillow but something was surely different even if I could not immediately distinguish just what it was.

Propped on one elbow, I listened for perhaps a minute without detecting anything unusual, then stretched back out and closed my eyes when suddenly it was there.

Just outside the window, from the lower branches of my persimmon tree or maybe on the lawn, the trill reverberated.

“Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will!”

The loveliest call of all the night birds, but we hardly ever hear them in our part of the county because they prefer much larger woods than anything that might pass for forestland nearby.

I also suspect that they are far less common than they might have been a few decades back because they nest on the ground and are easy prey for the large packs of coyotes that have invaded Kentucky over the last half of my lifetime.

I waited there in bed perhaps three minutes, trying not to move nor even breathe too loudly for fear that I might scare the bird away and then he called again. According to the experts only the males of the species make the call.

Over the course of the next half hour my attention could not possibly have been more rapt but after fewer than a dozen calls he stopped.

I slipped on my pants and then my moccasins before I grabbed a camera and slipped out the front door. The camera was a futile gesture, but at least I had it should a photo opportunity present itself.

I eased into the swing, shivering as I settled my naked back into its dew soaked cushion and waited.

A couple of screech owls, several hundred yards apart, halfheartedly called to each other and the bullfrog croaked a time or two but his enthusiasm, too, had waned. The mating time of night was coming to a close.

If the whip-poor-will was seeking a mate, I am hoping that he found her and that they make exception to the rule and take up residence in the woods across the way. I will not mind at all should they decide to interrupt my sleep again.

Columnist Ike Adams can be reached at 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461 or by e-mail at ikeadams@aol.com.

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