7:00 a.m. 37 degrees, wind NE 0 mph. Sky: a ponderous cloud, low and thick.
The valley a vessel of fog. Permanent streams: rushing to the marsh. A
patch of fallen birches, white on brown earth, graveyard of tree trunks. A
shallow-rooted birch came down in the rain last night, trunk across the
lower stream, a gleaming, peeling femur. Wetlands: arrested visibility,
muted colors. In the pines, red squirrel chatter and then an evanescent
bird-like trill, liquid and sweet . . . as though the squirrel had taken
voice lessons. Or, perhaps, a homesick hermit thrush. Pond: corroding
surface, lidded but porous, more slush than ice.
In Pomfret, yesterday, a rough-legged hawk flew east above a pasture, in
the White River's direction. Slow, rhythmic wingbeats, white tail teasing
the breeze, opening and closing like a card trick. Dark terminal band a
far-off signature. A big hawk, loosened from the Arctic. A sojourner. Dairy
cows paid no attention, milled around the edge of the field waiting to be
fed. Sometimes the world overhead simply passes by unseen.
The holler of a pileated, laughing at a private joke. Red-breasted
nuthatches diligently inspect maple twigs, ash furrows, and birch flagging,
where curling paper meets tree. Following the nuthatches example, titmouse
prospects the creases and crinkles of a maple limb—a dignified solitary,
little bird. Crest erect. Takes his time. More formal and less animated
than the chickadees that flit and chat nearby.
For the time being, this is my valley, my nourishment. I've come here, not
as a visitor, but as a participant, the stenographer who describes in
shorthand, the painter who renders in impression, a *familiar* landscape