“Stop,” I say to Allan, putting my hand on his arm. “Do you hear that?”
He looks at me for a moment, then cocks his head, trying to hear it.
He turns his head, trying to hear a sound. After a moment, he gives up. “No,” he says. “I don’t hear anything.”
I smile at him. “Exactly. No cars, no trains, no sounds of people rushing about in their day to day life.”
But after a few more minutes, my ears recalibrate, and I begin to pick out sounds, much more muted than in the city, but no less vital. The rustle of pine needles as the wind passes through the pine trees that surround the amphitheatre-like canyon. The sound of water over stone as Bergeron Creek tumbles along beside us. A bird, singing. It is the music of nature herself, and it is beautiful.
A few hundred feet from the base of Bergeron Falls, we encounter magic. Maybe it has something to do with the spray drifting down from the waterfall. Maybe it has something to do with the sun or the local flora, but suddenly, we are surrounded by monarch butterflies. Dozens of them. Hundreds. Maybe even thousands. The flit into the air, their wings cast in sharp relief by the sun, then settle down onto the rocks near the river. I stand still and put my hand on the rocks near the edge of the creek. The butterflies take off, circle, then land, warily, a few rocks over. I just sit there, still, as a few braver butterflies flirt with landing near me. They never do, but it doesn’t matter. It is an indelible moment that will be written on my soul forever.