6:28 a.m. 46 degrees, wind SSE 4 mph, a Hoagy Carmichael and Ray Charles
breeze . . .* Georgia on My Mind*. Sky: a rebellion of blue and gray,
bruised but gorgeous, spitting rain. Half-an-hour later, the cloud ceiling
shreds and opens in the west, long frayed fingers, wispy and curled,
celestial bangs dangling through an open pale-purple rinse. Permanent
streams: status quo flow minus snow (and ice). Wetlands: subdued light on
the marsh; reeds motionless under gray-blue, opening by the moment. Pond:
five hooded mergansers, three females and two first-year males, no longer
confined by ice. Two of the ducks, wings aloft, rush across the surface.
Airborne, they circle the pond twice and then pitch into the marsh; my two
German shepherds and three remaining mergansers stare with
bemused resignation at a world in flux. No sign of the mink, the otter, the
snapping turtle, painted turtles, frogs, tadpoles, or blithely
water-skating insects. Looks like November. Feels like May.
Pileated laughs at a private joke then passes through the open canopy, red
crest swept back, a pterodactyl of bird, rising and sinking in joyous
undulations, completely oblivious to absentee ballots. Three chickadees
hang upside down from the ends of hemlock twigs, prying tiny seeds out of
tiny cones . . . their specialized legs muscles, which permit dangling
inversion, would impress Walter Payton or Bo Jackson. Maybe even Jim Brown.
In the neighborhood of acrobatic chickadees, a chorus of nuthatches, redder
than white, blue jays, crows, and a trio of red squirrels chattering in the
pines. One squirrel launches from maple to pine at a forty-five-degree
angle, four limbs extended . . . similar to the nascent glide that an
ancestral flying squirrel took more than thirty million years ago.
Chickadees, busily exercising their leg muscles, ignore the squirrel . . .
a strategy with should use for political polls, which are as obsolete as