Date: 6/23/20 5:56 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] June 23, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:26 a.m. 66 degrees, wind NNW 0 mph. Sky: bleached-out and hazy; almost void of color. Clouds like gauze, no shape, no texture. Humid air close to saturation, thick with moisture (and mosquitos); needs to be wrung out. Early doldrums. Not only is Mount Ascutney lost to haze, but I've lost sight of nearby Gile Mountain. Water pulls away from the pond shore leaves a step, ever-widening ring of mud. Everywhere else bone dry. Singed grass dreams of rain. Hose drapes the garden fence.
The third morning in a row a woodcock, the color of leaf-litter, rises from a carpet of oak leaves. Its wings speak to me. I speak back. Woodcock pitches into oaks farther up the driveway. Sudden action startles dogs, which tug their leashes when I begin to converse with the bird. Settling onto a fresh piece of turf, woodcock has nothing to say. Chickadees are much more talkative.
A lone Nashville warbler sings like it's mid-May; nearly everyone else mum. Even red-eyed vireos are less energetic, less enthusiastic. One whisper in the maples, barely audible as though conversing through a face mask. Yellowthroat, its volume turned down, calls from the alders, *pic, pic, pic*. Across the wetlands, through air thick enough to carve, the elegance of a hermit thrush, soft and rolling, an unintended gift on a muggy, buggy morning.
In the pond: a green frog twangs; beetles skidder on the surface; a dragonfly trolls for mosquitos. Last night, a snapping turtle crossed over from the wetlands, plowed up the bermed roadside, and slipped into the pond. Its low center of gravity flattened grasses and forbs and left an undulating path like a miniature steamroller. Otters, more like Fred Astaire, much lighter on their feet, leave only hints of passage.
Like a schoolboy assigned to write about *how I spent my summer*, day after day I chronicle my unforeseen pandemic *vacation*, now extending into its fourth month. I'm cocooned at home in an emotional landscape, a narrow valley rife with memories, that speaks to me each morning in a language that I nearly disregarded . . . at my peril. Every day bears abrupt and vast gifts.