Soundtrack in my head: Cocteau Twins, “Lazy Calm”
It’s funny—come November here in downtown Madison it feels like a switch has been flipped and it’s now suddenly quiet. I think there are many reasons for this.
I think, in many ways, Halloween is the last blowout party of the year. And the last home Badger game was this past weekend. The cooler weather deters students from bringing their parties outside, which means that I don’t hear a bunch of drunken guys joining a chorus going “Whoaaaaaaaaaaa!” The students begin to realize that they actually have to start getting serious about their studies. And we’ve put plastic on our windows to seal out the cold weather and save on energy bills for the winter. All of these things combine to bring a rather calm quiet in the area that is quite refreshing.
Yet the weather is still warm enough to enjoy it—it’s actually a little bit unseasonably warm, but not too much. There are still a few little splashes of color at this late date. I stopped at Bernie’s Beach on Monona Bay en route to the Baha’i center last night and just stared out at water.
The beach was not well lit, so as I walked toward the beach I saw what I believe was a crane. I think it saw me at the same time. No light whatsoever was shining on it—I could barely see its outline. I’m pretty sure it was a crane—it was much larger and thinner than a goose, and it didn’t have the round bill of a swan. We both stopped and looked at each other—the crane was afraid to move and I didn’t want to make any moves that would scare it away. Finally it flew away, big wings flapping as it cruised two feet above the water. Then I saw an otter swimming around in the water shortly thereafter. I think these creatures are more likely to come out as human activity outdoors is diminished.
For the remainder of the time I stared out over the bay, seeing the Capitol on one side and John Nolen Drive crossing the edge of the bay, and then Meriter and St. Mary’s Hospitals on the opposite side. I paid close attention to the reflection of orange street lights on the bay. I felt relaxed.
I’ll enjoy the quiet. And then when the day arrives again when we take the plastic down, I’ll appreciate the fresh air again and no longer being sequestered from the outside world. At least until the neighbors start howling at the moon again.