Northeastern woods are pretty familiar and do not harbor a great number of the world’s bizarre creatures. And you feel that anything you experience you’ll have an explanation for. But occasionally I encounter a phenomenon I really do not understand.
The past few nights – and occasionally during the day – the woods have been making crumpling noises, an effect for which I can find no cause. The sound appears to emanate equally from the ground and from the canopy. When I first heard it near an old maple, I thought it was rain splashing against the leaves in the canopy and on the ground. But it was not raining. I pulled up the leaves on the ground and saw nothing. It’s not mice or birds – it’s more subtle than that, and seems to be coming from multiple locations simultaneously. It could be the gnawing or motion of many many caterpillars – there are a lot of them around, all the tent caterpillars have hatched – but when I look for them I can’t see them. What’s more, when I do see them, I don’t hear this noise. This occurs only in the woods, and only by certain trees.