It is in mid summer that we most appreciate dusk, a welcome reprieve from the late afternoon heat. Venturing outdoors, we often enjoy a soft, cool breeze as evening shadows stretch across the landscape.
Here in central Missouri, damselflies and hummingbirds make their last forays through the flower beds while, overhead, squadrons of dragonflies feast on flying insects, dodging the swifts, nighthawks and Mississippi kites that patrol the evening sky. Brown thrashers and gray catbirds, having spent the day in the shade of woodlands, now emerge to scour the lawns and shrubs, serenaded by the mellow tunes of wrens, cardinals and robins. As darkness expands, the incessant cicada chorus begins to wane, replaced by the scratchy notes of tree crickets.
On some evenings, American toads appear on the lawn, searching for moths and earthworms, or an opossum may saunter from the woods, ready for a night of scavenging. We humans, not endowed with night vision, may head indoors as the curtain of daylight fades in the west or stay to watch as distant suns appear in the darkening sky.