6:53 a.m. 50 degrees, wind NWN 0 mph. Sky: rumpled and gray, edge to edge,
steady drizzle; dendritic fog, an aerial watershed, marks every stream,
rivulet, pond, marsh, and the two branches of the Ompompanoosuc River; the
ubiquitous drip of leaves—beech, oak, and aspen, mostly—amplifies the
rhythm of the rain. Permanent and intermittent streams: status quo, volume,
and volume; quietly determined. Wetlands: a dimly lit wafer of reeds. Pond:
dark and rain dinted; I startle four hooded mergansers on the far end.
Ducks scull in tight circles, then race a short distance across the surface
and take off, over the road and into the marsh, again; long-tailed,
hammer-headed, wings whirring.
AOR: adult female (small tympanum, about the size of the eye; white throat
*not* yellow) green frog (*Lithobates clamitans*), the size of an oak leaf,
upright in the road; as cold and slimy as raw chicken breast. Stays put in
my hand, puffed-up. I put her in the woods aimed toward the marsh, which is
where I hope she was headed. Dogs oblivious; another meaningless activity.
Chickadees busy in the hardwoods. Aren't they always? Brown creeper
whispers single notes, high and thin, a faltering delicacy. Pileated
screams, loud and ringing . . . such a contrast to the creeper, barely
audible above the rain. Along the edge of the woods, two white-throated
sparrows in the ruin of an apple tree. Robins, everywhere in and around the
alders, a flock on the move.
When I returned home, industrious blue jays in the front yard bury acorns.
By-product of food storage, the lawn becomes a forest. Bobcats recline in
the shadows. Birds nest on new limbs. Treefrogs call in the rain, and
cicadas electrify the doldrums. It's what Vermont longs to be . . . a
woodland at heart.