6:27 a.m. 54 degrees, wind NNW 6 mph, nuthatch red-eye, on the heels of the cold front, filling the evergreens with disembodied toots; wind like traffic, roars; sheltered beech leaves in motion, a foliar sibilance. Pine crowns stir the air. Sky: ashen, textured, damp. Yesterday's warm rain touched several peepers, which trilled in private from the leaf litter, the tiny bells of spring. Pockets in the road, puddled. Permanent streams: refreshed, fuller and louder . . . but far from capacity. Wetlands: staid. High above the marsh, flying north, a pair of ravens, black between the gray ceiling and tan floor, an occasional croak, leisurely flapping, an unquenchable joy for life . . . Off to an appointment with a disemboweled deer? Pond: surface, rippled and empty. Impressionistic reflections, *matin couvert*. Pine crowns, burdened with cones. A mast year. But, today, no sign of crossbills. Two chattering red squirrels chase each other up and down and around three pine trunks, toenails scratching bark, louder than the twitter of beech leaves—a dizzying pursuit. Dogs sit, watch. Next spring should produce a bumper crop of red squirrels—two litters per female. Up to six kits weaned per litter. Nestlings beware. Raptors prepare. My mother, one of eleven siblings, born to parents from Eastern Europe, neither of whom spoke English when they reached Ellis Island. My grandfather taught Hebrew, didn't handle money whenever he read the Torah, which was about twice a week, and got around in a horse carriage. My grandmother had a cow, chickens, and a large garden. Somehow, they managed on the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio. They put-away borscht and brisket. As far as I know, neither responded to a mast year. This autumn's bumper crop of acorns and pinenuts, littering lawns, hanging from trees, should trigger a *trophic cascade*, a flowering of white-footed mice, red and gray squirrels, chipmunks, flying squirrels. Next spring, Copper's hawks and goshawks, both small to mid-sized bird terrorists—spirited, relentless predators—ought to cash in on an abundance of small mammals, which in turn ought to be raiding songbird nests . . . stealing eggs and chicks. A three- to five-year cycle: from mast to rodents; more rodents fewer songbirds fledge. More rodents, more hawks fledge. And, if you enjoy rattlesnakes (as I do), in two years, late summer 2022, there will be more rattlesnake births on the Champlain ledges . . . but that's another story. My grandparents, tending garden and barnyard, far removed from the comforts of a mast year . . . never had it so easy.