Scent of the Jungle by William Beebe


The Equatorial Jungle
It was years ago that I heard the pipes of Pan; but one does not forget these mysteries of the jungle night: the sounds and scents and the dim, glimpsed ghosts which flit through the darkness and the deepest shadow mark a place for themselves in one's memory, which is not erased. I have lain in my hammock looking at a tapestry of green draped over a half-fallen tree, and then for a few minutes have turned to watch the bats flicker across a bit of sky visible through the dark branches. When I looked back again at the tapestry, although the dusk had only a moment before settled into the deeper blue of twilight, a score of great lustrous stars were shining there,making new patterns in the green drapery; for in this short time, the spectral blooms of the night had awakened and flooded my resting-place with their fragrance.
And these were but the first of the flowers; for when the brief tropic twilight is quenched, a new world is born. The leaves and blossoms of the day are at rest, and the birds and insects sleep. New blooms open, strange scents pour forth. Even our dull senses respond to these; for just as the eye is dimmed, so are the other senses quickened in the sudden night of the jungle. Nearby, so close that one can reach out and touch them, the pale Cereus moons expand, exhaling their sweetness, subtle breaths of fragrance calling for the very life of their race to the whirring hawkmoths. The tiny miller who, through the hours of glare has crouched beneath a leaf, flutters upward, and the trail of her perfume summons her mate perhaps half a mile down wind. The civet cat, stimulated by love or war, fills the glade with an odor so pungent that it seems as if the other senses must mark it.
Although there may seem not a breath of air in motion, yet the tide of scent is never still. One's moistened finger may reveal no cool side, since there is not the vestige of a breeze; but faint odors arrive, become stronger, and die away, or are wholly dissipated by an onrush of others, so musky or so sweet that one can almost taste them. These have their secret purposes, since Nature is not wasteful. If she creates beautiful things, it is to serve some ultimate end; it is her whim to walk in obscure paths, but her goal is fixed and immutable. However, her designs are hidden and not easy to decipher; at best, one achieves, not knowledge, but a few isolated facts.
Edge of the Jungle
 By William Beebe