The late winter night air is cold, and the ground is muddy from yesterday’s rain. Some humans created an art exhibit here. They decided to collaborate with nature, the sign says, without harming it. People have traveled from many kilometers away to visit this place tonight. Lights glow white, violet, scarlet amidst the rumble of conversation. Children shriek and laugh. An ongoing army of shoes march through fallen leaves. Fast food sizzles from booths set up along the trail, and people line up to buy it. Overhead, a bird calls out and wings away into the dark.
I can’t help but wonder. What about the fish who live below the water’s surface, where the egg-shaped plastic glowing objects float? Are they awake from the colors and sounds, when they are used to the quiet emptiness of night? And what about the birds who roost in these trees? Are they worried about the whooshing, tinkling human-made music and crowds of trooping feet? The mass tangle of wires, the machinery being used to power this display, do these disturb and bewilder them?
All around, people gaze and marvel at the light show, but I feel a little strange. I breathe in. The frosty air smells alive with the scent of trees and water. I look up into towering branches that have been here long before I was.