6:48 a.m. 37 degrees, wind ENE 0 mph, another May delivery in the austerity
of November. Sky: half-moon shining overhead, ground fog rises with the sun
beneath bright, gauzy, peeling apart clouds, luminous in the east, rinsed
pink in the west. Here and there, I peer through a thin breach, into the
vastness of blue, where comets roam, where hope and aspiration are born,
where dreams go to die. Permanent streams: a relief of water, cold and
clear; soothing music. Wetlands: languid fog, wasting away as I watch.
Pond: hazy and duckless, a morning without mergansers. A flotilla of
waterlogged milkweed seeds float the surface, a genetic dead-end, for these
seeds . . . nowhere to go but down (much like the 45th president). Aspens
release yellow-brown leaves, drift and litter, a final foliar rain.
AOR: three slugs. One clogged by gravel, waits to wither; the other two,
antennae out, on the move.
Chickadees liberal feeders, on the end of fir twigs, the seed head of
asters, the crotch of beech branches, the drooping stem of goldenrods. Back
and forth, all over the place, from one branch to another. Chickadee visits
the forest floor, quickly, something of interest in the sodden leaves.
Hopping, hopping, hopping. Spider eggs, pupae, aroused insects. Nothing's
safe. Once, while wandering the rolling outback of eastern Long Island, I
found a half-eaten chickadee impaled on a hawthorn. A northern shrike, I
figured. As clouds of finches and nuthatches move south out of the boreal
forest this winter, are shrikes far behind? I check my hawthorns regularly
for an impaled mouse or chickadee. It's a jungle out there.
Wolves will return to Colorado. Proposition 114 passed; with ninety percent
of the vote in, there were 1,495,523 votes for and 1,475,235 against. The
remaining ten percent—much like the Presidential election—comes from
heavily Democratic urban areas. In due time, from Alaska to Mexico, wolves
will reclaim the Rocky Mountains. Elk and deer and bighorn sheep will be
more alert, less crowded. Mountain shoulders and alpine meadows shall heal.
Deep ecology shall prevail.
As a young man, in northern Mexico, Aldo Leopold shot and killed a gray
wolf. In the essay "Thinking Like a Mountain," he told the story, a paean
to the importance of predation, whether owl or wolves or shrikes. Earth
needs them all.
*We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her
eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something
new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I
was young then and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer
wolves meant more deer, that no wolves means hunters' paradise. But after
seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain
agreed with such a view. *
My agenda: a world where the green fire shines, where the hair stands up on
the back of my neck when a falcon stoops or a wolf sings beneath a diamond
sky, all night, in the dark. Is that asking too much?