6:49 a.m. 46 degrees, wind ESE 2 mph. Sky: clear in the east, hints of
pink; in the west, a diagonal mega-link of bright oval sausage clouds,
peach-rinsed. Fog more pronounced than yesterday; thicker where water
stands; rolls uphill, creeping into pastures. Permanent streams: noisy in
the sinuous narrows; silent in the sprawling trunk. Wetlands: rising mist
softens shoreline texture, eclipses shoreline color, accentuates cloud
link, which dominates an otherwise empty sky. Pond: four mergansers rush to
judgment, disturb the lull . . . and go. Everywhere in the weeds, small
bowl-and-doily spiderwebs, jeweled by dew. A murmur of crickets, an end of
the year serenade. An aisle through matted goldenrods and asters, up the
bank and into the water. Dogs take an interest, finally. I think it's an
otter. Noses to grass, dogs know . . . but aren't saying. Blueberry leaves
bright red, blackberry dull purple. Roosting doves, coming and going, loose
yellow maple leaves, which float into the garden. Biscotti-colored beech
leaves paper-thin; Merlo-colored oak leaves leather-thick.
From the next valley west, soft *caw*s of crows. When pileated hollers,
everyone listens. An unassuming creeper heads up a maple trunk; a
boisterous nuthatch heads down a pine. Everywhere else, chickadees,
chickadees, chickadees. Adjacent to the mouth of the wetlands, just above
the crippled beaver dam, a clique of robins in the crowns of pines,
calling, a rapidly repeated *chirr*. Not a predator alarm. There's none
around (that I can see). Several years ago, in the Jones Beach dunes, an
immature goshawk snagged a hapless robin and took it back to the frame of a
rotted observation tower. While the hawk plucked its kill, nearby robins
screamed, a rapidly repeated series of sharp, caustic notes . . . far
different than the mellow notes I hear this morning.
Deliciously alive, red squirrels play tag, one after the other. Up and down
pine trunks, across limbs, racing and leaping, screaming, hemorrhaging
energy while utterly disregarding social distancing.
Just below the summit of Robinson Hill, the sun ignites a globe of aspen,
yoke-yellow in an otherwise naked woodland.