6:39 a.m. 32 degrees, wind N 1 mph. Sky: before the sun, a rose, white, and
blue wash east to west above the southern horizon, an island of blue-gray
above the marsh. After the sun, a flotilla of silver-edged clouds in a sea
of blue. Permanent streams: Driven by dwarf cascades and mini rapids, eyes
closed, I stand lulled by spilling water. Hillside meditation, a
magical moment without intent. Wetlands: floor, lightly frosted (like a
breakfast cereal). Ceiling, a rumpled blanket with dull-pink highlights.
Pond: closed over, again. Shards and slivers welded into a jigsaw—a
stain-glass window without stain. Several milkweed seeds froze on the
Deep in the evergreens, across the marsh, pileated laughs, and, nearby, the
tricycle horns of red-breasted nuthatches. A *Duck Soup* melody . . . Harpo
Marx, his feet submerged in Edgar Kennedy's lemonade. Red squirrel bashful
on the ground, wired on a limb.
Five chickadees investigate a white birch. Check under curls of bark, the
ends of broken twigs. Two others fly to the skeletal crown of big-toothed
aspen. Pick at leaf buds. What's in it for the chickadees? Insect eggs?
Buds, themselves? Hard to tell from below. On frigid winter nights,
chickadee lowers its metabolism—self-induced hypothermia. Between day and
night, a temperature drop of more than fifty degrees Fahrenheit, an
internal chill that conserves fat and reduces oxygen consumption. May also
stimulate internal sound of sleighbells and dreams of Christmas . . .
though this remains unproven.