Date: 6/22/20 6:34 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] June 22, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center, VT
5:09 a.m. 66 degrees, wind WNW 0 mph. Sky: mostly blue, except in the east where a cloud mountain, all white with underbelly highlights, fills the void. Fog over the wetlands oozes over the road, joins fog over the pond, and together drift east uphill like a biblical plague; as I imagine fog drifts over the moors of Devonshire. Haze everywhere else. No sign of Mount Ascutney.
Pipette-mouthed mosquitos out in force (more biblical plague than fog). A female needs one tiny drop of blood the size of a sand grain to make three hundred eggs. Just to break even, I have to kill three hundred for each successful bite. Unfortunately, successful bites are increasing exponentially; a number beyond counting like our metastasizing pandem debt. Marinating in a denim jacket, I have only hands, neck, and face to defend . . . at best, a losing proposition. At worse, an ill-fated expedition. I want bats back. To console myself, I recall that male mosquitos pollinate orchids, which sustains me only so long . . . then the slapping resumes. When the British biologist J.B.S. Haldane, one of Darwin's earliest and most rabid supporters, claimed . . . *the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose, *he could have been considering mosquitos.
Crows call from the driveway pine. A song sparrow hops along the edge of the road. A flyover red-shouldered hawk. Third day of summer, the wheel of phenology turns. Dawn quiets down. Most Neotropical migrants incubate or rear nestlings. Woodpeckers, hawks, and owls have fledged. Nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice, too. Phoebe chicks: heads and ample beaks overflow their barn nest. Thrushes keep to themselves. Before long, southbound shorebirds will stop by.
A pair of red squirrels chase each other around a pine trunk. Like robins, bluebirds, and phoebes it's procreation round two. Yesterday, seven painted turtles basked on the surface of the pond. This morning, only two. A bullfrog calls. Tapoles skitter.
Whirl-a-gig and diving beetles zigzag like miniature bumper cars on the pond. They speak in wakes, an emphemeral and forgotten language. I'm easily mesmerized. Scarab beetles eat an unidentified roadkill. Ladybird beetles eat unidentified aphids. A click beetle in the sink, clicking. Last night, fireflies over the garden (sadly, not too many). Beetles, of all shapes, colors, and sizes, the perfect substitute for birds, which busy themselves with domestic chores, and the perfect antidote for the mosquitos that cloud around me.
Haldane, again, *If one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of creation it would appear that God has an inordinate fondness of stars and beetles.*