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  • We’re high on a ridge watching the sun go down and the stars prick the void. Both quiet, both tired, a little sunburned and a little stoned. There’s a chill that’s deeper than the darkness: autumn: the end of another field season.

    When the quick trip’s over, we’ll rejoin the crew and close out the last few weeks. I’m studying owls this time, not juncos, or sparrows, or marten, or coyotes, or mice. And this time I’m there as a new PhD student, not a technician working for one. But like every other time, the ebb tide of summer brings a quiet sadness because we'll all go our separate ways and the strange small world we’ve built will dissolve.

    But that sorrow is deceptive, because the world isn't really that big. My camping partner will soon join the list of people I’ll find again some time. If she doesn’t, and if we keep caged all the stories that flutter in our hearts, the whole mad journey really will just be sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    The world turns, the darkness deepens. All motion and sound is left to the wind, all light to the stars and the moon. The mountains stand impassive, blind to their future and thus redeemed from suffering and incapable of courage, while the trail beckons in two directions. We’d followed it here past beautiful lakes and towering peaks that I already long to revisit. But it also goes somewhere I’ve never been, and at dawn I know which way I'll go.

    See you there.

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