6:58 a.m. 36 degrees (silence of the crickets), wind NNW 9 mph, tall,
slender pines, a grove of creaky doors in need of oil, pick up the
crickets' slack . . . moaning, groaning, swaying. Sky: a jalousie of blue
and white, empty rolls, which I diligently scan for big birds— waterfowl,
loons, herons, cormorants, hawks, gulls. A tailwind, perfect day to fly. No
luck. Patiently, nose to the earth, dogs scan for odor, which they find . .
. which they always find. Permanent and intermittent streams: tranquil
flows, quieter than the wind; rafts of fresh oak and aspen leaves caught on
rocks of lower stream. Wetlands: solemn and seemingly vacant legions of
reeds. No sign of deer or ducks or blackbirds. Pond: rolling surface
produces flickering light show; three hooded mergansers, winter-clad males,
bolt the north end, out and over the marsh, the wind quickly erasing
evidence of passage.
DOR: female American toad, strings of eggs like maple buds, in place for
AOR: grit-picking robin, flushes
Nineteen turkeys in the yard. Ten under the oaks gorge on acorns. Nine
under the feeders gorge on spilled sunflower seeds. In anticipation of next
spring, one male rehearses, tail fanned, wings lowered and quivering, a
serious student of multiplication.
Happy-go-lucky chickadees, the mortar that binds the Hollow, eat weed
seeds, insect eggs, cold-stunned insects, hazelnut catkins, spiders and
spider eggs in the eaves of the barn, fat between the bones of broken deer,
suet and sunflower seeds at the feeders. A catholic diet that promotes
abundance, vitality, maybe even cheerfulness. A *possible* contingency of
climate change: more narrowly adapted species (Blackburian warbler, let's
say) perish in the black hole of extinction, while bibbed and bonneted
chickadees radiate into new species that (hopefully) continue to entertain
their neighbors, whomever they may evolve to be.
In the meantime, effervescent chickadees spread joy across a grim
landscape, anodynes for the ills of 2020.