JB told me months ago about how he was in his tree stand near the cabin and the sound seemed to fill his body from the inside out. At first I thought I was having a stroke, he said, shaking his head. I couldn’t imagine such a thing until we were out in that same area yesterday and the noise grew from the pine-scented air around us, escalating in intensity until you felt it like the heartbeat of the forest. It did seem oddly internal, the bass from a concert, somehow both foreign and intimate. My brain skittered around trying to associate it with something familiar: a helicopter coming in for a landing, a mallet striking a drum, a rubber ball losing energy as its bounces become shorter and faster.

Like this, but deeper, louder, everywhere.

We never saw it, because the woods are thick with a million green secrets. That was AWESOME, the kids shouted. I worriedly imagine freaky heartbeat-monsters descending from above to devour us in ravenous gulps; they tumble through the endless blackberry-choked paths and press eager fingers into muddy animal prints. They dive comfortably into the mystery of the trees, fearless and happy and curious about it all.

Screen shot 2013-05-18 at 4.11.46 PM


10 Responses to “Ruffed grouse, says Google”

  1. sooboo on May 18th, 2013 6:05 pm

    I have read way to many Stephen King books and I would have imagined all kinds of monsters too. Nature be crazy. “We never saw it, because the woods are thick with a million green secrets.” Nice.

  2. emay on May 18th, 2013 6:47 pm

    I heart the way you write. If you (when you?) publish I’ll be first in line (no pressure or anything!)

  3. emay on May 18th, 2013 6:50 pm

    BTW – you look great! that pic of you and the boys … hope it’s in a frame somewhere!

  4. JB on May 18th, 2013 7:01 pm

    That photo is incredible, Linda. I have a similar one of my 2 kids heading into the surf on a white bright sunny day at the beach holding hands with their father. You couldn’t imagine a more different backdrop but the easy trust and companionship as they head off on an adventure is the same.

  5. Amy on May 18th, 2013 9:33 pm

    I am a transplanted east coaster living in LA. One day a few years ago there was an earthquake. The sound, and the feeling, was so foreign, and my brain kept trying to figure it out. Wind? trees scraping against the windows? there’s something on the roof! Something REALLY BIG! a family of racoons! And then finally it was over and right at that moment I realized that it had been an earthquake. Maybe 15 seconds had passed. Weird.

  6. Anonymous on May 20th, 2013 2:08 am

    Sounds like a scary but enthralling experience! Did the boys hear it?

  7. Chris C. on May 20th, 2013 12:14 pm

    We had a grouse perched in a tree right above our campsite in Yosemite a couple weeks ago. It is a crazy sound! This one was in full-on-mating mode, so when we finally caught a glimpse of him displaying his tail feathers and puffing up his neck, it was pretty cool.

    The craziest bird call I’ve ever heard, though, is the willow ptarmigan. We woke up to some of them surrounding our tent when we were backpacking in the remote Alaskan wilderness and I thought the aliens had landed for sure :-)

  8. kim on May 24th, 2013 7:09 pm

    I don’t know if this is interesting or sad, but I feel the same thing in NYC – but not the noise, really. I feel the heartbeat of the city, the movement, up through the soles of my feet and it affects my very being.

  9. OR Suz on May 29th, 2013 12:09 pm

    Oregon’s lousy with Skookums. Just sayin’.

  10. Lena on July 26th, 2013 12:18 am

    One time I was diving, and was perhaps 10-15m under, and there’s a ‘boom’ I hear right inside of me. A slow but distinct boom. I look around at my fellow divers, and they were also looking back and around, so I surmised they must have heard it. No sound again for a while and so we continued our dive. Then we felt another one. Someone gave the sign of ‘up’ and we started going up to the surface. Know what it was? Fishermen using (makeshift) bombs to catch fish, sort of like those molotovs people cocktail for demonstrations. The sound carried, man. It was pretty surreal.

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