Ben was out like a light after our campsite got dark. This surprised me. I expected him to want to go exploring. But after eating a satisfying dinner of spaghetti and canned pears and after washing the dishes, Ben announced that he was tired and was going to bed.
Trudy and I went for a nighttime stroll. The sky had been shockingly hazy ever since Austin, and so the stars in the sky were kind of fuzzy. And the glowing lights of the Coke machines in the parking light behind us blinded us as we walked by. But we went down to the river and sat on a flat rock for a while.
The white bluffs on the other side of the river shone in the green glow of the pop machines. And somebody down by the water's edge was playing with a flashlight, making a show on the cliff walls and on the trees at the edge of the forest. Every once in a while a car came along the road above us, and its headlights would throw beams of white light over our heads.
Let's just say that it didn't exactly feel like wilderness.
But if we ignored the green and white lights, and if we were patient enough to wait for the breaks in the flashing flashlight, and if we happened to look at the forest across the water above the bluffs upstream from where we sat near the bend in the river, we could see little yellow lights blinking on and off.
As the frogs clicked and croaked, the yellow lights played a silent symphony: some high, some low, some near, some far, some bright, some dim, some at the cliff's edge, some deep in the woods so that their blinking was barely visible.
We sat there and watched this for a while, but it wasn't long before the afternoon in the river caught up with us too, and we were longing for our beds. So we returned to the campsite and tuned out the talking of the teenagers at the campsite next to ours and the whirring of the electric fans in their tents.
We lay down, closed our eyes, and in minutes we were fast asleep.
Buffalo National River, NW Arkansas
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