Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 12: Night

When I was out for a run this morning, I noticed the plant deadly nightshade blooming along the side of the road. As a kid I was fascinated by this plant with its garish purple and yellow flowers and colorful berries that looked like tiny tomatoes (nightshade is in the same family as the tomato). We used to collect them, imagining ourselves as potential poisoners in that macabre way that kids have of focusing on creepy things.

As I was running and musing on nightshade, my mind made the perhaps logical verbal leap to thinking about the night-heron, a big brooding bird that is creepy in its own right. Night-herons are indeed nocturnal, and they use the cover of darkness to stalk their prey. One night-heron can come in and wipe out most of a nesting tern colony's chicks in a night. The bird is the bane of seabird island managers. But to birders the night-heron's also fascinating, hunched over with a dark look in its red eyes, beautiful in flight.

And what about night crawlers? We used to collect them from the front yard at night to use the next day as fishing bait. They're just big worms. And yet, Night Crawler is a popular comic book superhero, a mutant who fights bad guys alongside Wolverine and the like. He has powers of teleportation and being able to crawl up things, but there's still that dark edge to the fact that he too can kill.

Such were my musings on this humid June morning. Isn't it amazing where your own mind can take you, as your feet simply follow their usual route through the neighborhood?

My bright morning run
somehow inspires thoughts of
deadly night creatures.

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