Date: 6/28/20 6:06 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] June 28, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:21 a.m. 53 degrees, wind N 0 mph. Sky: mottled and highlighted, a whiter shade of pink, the pink of Caucasian flesh; eventually, long fingers of sunlight extent beyond the crown of Robinson Hill, the incarnation of a *Watchtower* cover. Upper permanent stream struggles to flow; not a murmur. Lower a wreckage of a stream. National Weather Service calls this "moderate drought." Somewhere to the west, the legacy of rain looms. Wetlands more a haze than a mist. Light fog rolls off the pond; goes nowhere.
Birds more calling than singing, except for wearisome red-eyed vireoes, which sing like they just arrived. One *very* loud ovenbird. A robin, the tip of its yellow bill stained brown, runs across the road, just ahead of the dogs. A veery on a broken aspen limb tilts his head back slightly and sings a duet with himself; an elegant cascade like the rush of water. Sings. Looks at me. Sings. Looks a me. Sings, again and again and again. An echo of an echo. A bird I often hear but don't often see. Veery has enough; flies away, leaves me wanting more.
A milk snake skin in the stonewall, a sleeve of itself turned inside out. Late one April, while precariously balancing on a step ladder pruning apple trees, a milk snake (maybe this milk snake) slithered out of a mole tunnel into daylight. The snake felt cold, and I assumed that she had wintered in the tunnel, somewhere below the frostline, and had just emerged for the season. She summers in the stonewall with a couple of garter snakes, where sheds once, maybe twice, each growing season. Lays oblong, leathery eggs in the compost pile. In September, a dozen snakelets, brick-red hourglasses on gray backgrounds, rubbery and delicate, radiate from the compost pile. When I see one on the lawn, I'm joyous. Small snakes eat slugs. Big snakes eat white-footed mice and chipmunks, the two most important reservoir hosts of Lyme disease. Milk snakes advance through the tightness of the stonewall; for a chipmunk, there's no place to hide. For me, notwithstanding the brilliance of Emily Dickenson, never ever *And Zero at the Bone*.