6:51 a.m. 45 degrees, wind NNW 7 mph, stirs spindly trees. Sky: cloud
islands full of shape and promise, rimmed in rose and peach, mobile; in the
east, hollowed-out half-moon, bright as polished silver, emerges from
behind a cloud. Permanent streams: refreshed, infused by last night's
thunderstorms, which entertained and then interrupted a front-yard,
socially-distanced picnic (first time Jordan had been home in six weeks and
I couldn't hug him). Wetlands: merlin above the north end, no-flap soaring,
tight ovals above a stand of aspen, then arrows south, assisted by the
wind. Pond: A mother, asleep in her car, while her boy bow-hunts, wakes up.
Dressed in camouflage and high boots seems ready for the Apocalypse. She
likes birds. She mentions robins, which have been flying by since first
light. I mention kinglets. Aspens: more yellow than green, a rich, buttery
Chickadees inspect curled bark of yellow birch; white-breasted nuthatches
peeling cherry bark. Titmouse, as gray as stone, lands on a stone wall.
Geese on the go, honking in a marbled sky. Beyond the eastern rim of the
valley, the land drops down toward the Connecticut River; pileated calls
from the east, a faint and haunting laugh.
The silence of March seems so long ago. A COVID quietness that kept most
everyone home. No cars. No planes. An unmarried sky. The church bells of
Post Mills never sounded so sweet. Apparently, we aren't the only species
that recognized the absence of noise pollution. Recently, *Science* reported
that white-crowned sparrows in San Fransisco sing softer than before
lockdown, at bandwidths more typical of the quieter 1970s. Without
the constant hum of land and air traffic, sparrows sang higher notes from a
wider bandwidth. Male sparrows reported *Science*, likely heard each other
from twice as far away as before the pandemic. Unerringly and accordingly,
white-crowned sparrows adjusted their songs.
If sparrows accept and accommodate *new* realities . . . can't we?