Wednesday, July 27, 2022

An Appetite For The Marvellous

No tale was too gross or monstrous for his capacious swallow. It was often his delight, after his school was dismissed in the afternoon, to stretch himself on the rich bed of clover bordering the little brook that whimpered by his schoolhouse, and there con over old Mather’s direful tales, until the gathering dusk of evening made the printed page a mere mist before his eyes. Then, as he wended his way by swamp and stream and awful woodland, to the farmhouse where he happened to be quartered, every sound of nature, at that witching hour, fluttered his excited imagination,—the moan of the whip-poor-will from the hillside, the boding cry of the tree toad, that harbinger of storm, the dreary hooting of the screech owl, or the sudden rustling in the thicket of birds frightened from their roost. The fireflies, too, which sparkled most vividly in the darkest places, now and then startled him, as one of uncommon brightness would stream across his path; and if, by chance, a huge blockhead of a beetle came winging his blundering flight against him, the poor varlet was ready to give up the ghost, with the idea that he was struck with a witch’s token. His only resource on such occasions, either to drown thought or drive away evil spirits, was to sing psalm tunes and the good people of Sleepy Hollow, as they sat by their doors of an evening, were often filled with awe at hearing his nasal melody, “in linked sweetness long drawn out,” floating from the distant hill, or along the dusky road.

- Washington Irving


Lady M said...

I would never describe the screech owl as dreary.

Autumnleaf said...

My favorite thing is to watch the daylight turn into night through the trees. It goes through some extraordinary changes in the branches. Then there's the gift of the owls. If you're lucky one will choose a nearby tree and start calling. Then another off in the distance will answer and if you're Really lucky a third will chime in. But this is fairly rare, making it all the more magical. I guess they're great horned owls... Hoo HOO hoo, with an occasional extra hoo.

Rot said...

That's very neat.