And I say to you, your pines, your snakes and sparrows and streams,
peach-mist mornings and exquisite writing of the heart: Thank YOU.
On Tue, Oct 20, 2020 at 10:40 AM Ted Levin <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 7:02 a.m. 52 degrees, Wind SSE 5 mph. Sky: a glum and overcast, raining,
> chronically gray morning. Permanent streams: after last night's rain, a
> little louder and fuller. Illusion or reality: a month ago, squeeze a stone
> to recover water. Intermittent streams: on the go. Wetlands: marsh somber
> and lifeless, sans mist. Pond: a mirrored-surface, yellow, brown, and
> pine-green. Two mergansers rush out of the far cove, stir capsized
> reflections, then depart on caffeinated wingbeats. Pitch into the wetlands,
> welcomed by a growing pool. I studied their heads for a nanosecond . . .
> still don't know their age or sex.
> A brown creeper wanders up yellow birch, long-tail pressed to trunk, picks
> through peeling bark, soldiering on in the dim woods. Its voice thin as the
> mist and barely louder. Three or four off-key nuthatches tooting their tin
> horns, all red. A white-breasted nuthatch on pine, a little bird in a
> massive tree, wanders down the trunk, almost hidden by bark furrows, a
> creeper in reverse. Along the hem of the pond, a white-throated sparrow, an
> altogether gorgeous face—cream-colored crown stripes and throat and
> canary-yellow lores—reaps weed seeds, eaten on the spot, stems doubled over
> under the weight.
> For crows, my compost pile is a feeding station. The morning after I empty
> the kitchen bucket, they're there, picking and probing, gabbling—a hollow,
> harmonious knocking, a rapping of sticks. One flies off with an eggshell,
> the other stale bread. For milksnakes, my compost pile is an incubator for
> oval eggs. For garter snakes and American toads, a source of worms. For
> worms, a source of food. One late winter afternoon, a male snow bunting
> paused on the compost-pile fence, a black and white associate of polar
> bears, bound for the Arctic. For black walnut and sugar maple, the compost
> pile is fertilizer, a wellspring of nitrogen and phosphorous and calcium;
> invisibly and slowly, roots probe the depths. Sometimes, when flipping
> compost with a pitchfork, I strike root or uncover eggs or a worm crammed
> in the mouth of a snake; sometimes, a jewel-eyed toad naps just below the
> surface. Then, I carefully return the compost and say . . . thank you.