7:06 a.m. 36 degrees, wind NNE 6 mph (parka and hat; no gloves, fingers
numb). Sky: overcast and raining, a low, gray ceiling; a dusting of snow in
the front yard and along the road edges. A *raw* morning, like youthful
treks along Jones Inlet, watching November gannets plunge for killifish and
purple sandpipers stalk the jetty, on the verge of being swept away; my
fingers red and sore. Permanent streams: upper, full and loud and fast;
lower, fuller and louder and faster. Nearly brim-full, even though lower
dries up first, it carries much more water and freight. Intermittent
streams: a semblance of permanence; roadside gullies carry water. Wetlands:
color and channels deepened by rain; a wood duck overhead, disappears
beyond the eastern rim, beyond the valley, a bird on a mission, flung by
necessity. Pond: water pours out of the overflow pipe with
fire-hydrant force; surface pocked and clear; pine needles gather tightly
in the south cove, a perilous platform. Milkweed's done for the season,
collapsing stems and dropping leaves. Beech leaves, tenacious and thin, the
color of old pennies; oak leaves, tenacious and thick, the color of rusted
nails; both echoes of tropical origins; trees that have not fully embraced
the deciduous idea. A yellow maple leaf, a zigzag descent. A yellow birch
leaf tumbles. A black cherry leaf floats. Others spin and drift; daily,
more bare branches rake the sky, and dull, wet leaves spot the road.
AOR: robins and juncos, grit picking, in no hurry to leave
DOR: two small green frogs, a fatal exodus, smashed en route from pond to
the marsh; intestines empty and unspoiled.
Flush a pair of grouse, an explosive sound. Dogs come to life in a way no
chickadee provokes them.
Evidence of a tilting Earth: four days without red-shouldered hawk; three
weeks without snake or bat; five weeks without vireo. Leaves fall in waves,
lifting the veil from the woodlands. There, a ledge, where the vultures
nest and the bobcat walks, unseen. There, a slick hillside and an empty
army of trunks. Expect change, the fidelity of change, enduring,
never-ending . . . it's the wonder of living with seasons.