Date: 5/14/20 5:34 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] May 14, 2020: Thetford Center
5:28 a.m. 28 degrees, windless. Half-moon well to the east stares down the sun, which remains hidden in the pleated landscape. Hints of magenta and rose trim the edges of the eastern and western horizons. The summit of Mount Ascutney in sharp relief. Frost in the wetlands. Mists rises out of the pond. I heard owls last night; not this morning. No ducks, either. A grouse drums in the distance, barley audible. Hermit thrushes and winter wrens low key. Robins also quiet, hunt the road margins, engaged in domestic chores. Bittern calls, just the cheek-popping second part; long pauses between each pop. Even turkeys are subdued, muzzled by the calendar and the weather. Mid-May as cold as mid-April; days of stiff, sere winds. The world, my world, Coyote Hollow, a valley within a valley within a valley within the vast corrugations of the Northeast, tries to find equilibrium.
Six ovenbirds, singing, scattered in the woods (none in the front yard). A wood thrush sings a clipped version of his song, just enough for me to recognize the melody. Several yellowthroats halfheartly sing in the reeds. Three swamp sparrows, hushed, chase each other around the alders.
A deer, white flag flying, bolts up slope. Dogs reassemble themselves; stretch to full height, parabolic ears scanning . . . the way I might react to a blackburnian warbler.
As quiet and as unassuming as the early morning has been, two months ago I accepted an invitation that the coronavirus had given me; I began to reacquaint Coyote Hollow, with the seemingly prosaic and mundane, chickadee and blue jay and mourning dove, only to discover that the mote was in my eye *not *in theirs. The valley and its inherent patterns, its litany of actors are absolutely as fascinating as the day we met . . . for decades I took them for granted, had forgotten how cool each one really was. The pandemic offered me a path back into Coyote Hollow, a way to undo a vestigial a relationship with my homeground.