It feels like the tropics, reminding me of my 5-month stint banding birds in Panama in 1983, before anyone heard of Manuel Noriega. In those days, while I was out on Pipeline Road along the Panama Canal catching colorful birds in mist nets, Noriega was planning his military and political takeover of the country; he was elected (presumably) Governor of Panama six months after I left. My memories of the country are of birds, mist nets, the Canal, Barro Colorado Island, fresh fruit, cockroaches in our cupboards, a tapir, monkeys, and the humidity.
It is the humidity this morning that reminds me suddenly of Panama. As I listen to squirrels lurking among the oaks and beech overhead, I wonder what it would be like to have monkeys living among us. What would Kodi do with a troop of howler monkeys overhead? In Panama the howlers would throw sticks at us while we erected the mist nets. They were always a bit surly about us invading their territory. Still, it would be interesting to hear their loud howls boom through the forest. Kodi has no such thoughts about monkeys, as he sniffs for fox and their kin. He, I think, would not like such an addition to the biodiversity of these woods.
A deer snorts from over the rise, out of sight, and I emerge from my humidity-induced day-dreaming. A pewee's clear song pierces the still air as we climb steadily to the top. A lone hermit thrush sings from the Knob. The humidity is high today, over 100 percent, the woodland birds are quiet except for the pewee and thrush.
The humidity and the view from Rattlesnake Knob reminds me of central Panama
Here on Rattlesnake Knob among the normally dry, upland forest, it is decidedly more humid than is typical or comfortable. Everything waits for a rain. A few drops fall as we hike back down and return to the car, the raindrops gently tap the tree canopy. The rain disappoints, the humidity remains.