Date: 7/14/20 8:05 am
From: John Snell <jrsnelljr...>
Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] July 14, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
Thank you, Ted, for today’s piece and ALL of them. A gift.

> On Jul 14, 2020, at 10:56 AM, Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> wrote:
> 5:54 a.m. 60 degrees, wind E 1 mph. Sky: congested and electrified; the
> sound of severe indigestion rolls above the valley; tendrils of moisture,
> rising everywhere and everywhere holding up the clouds like pliable Greek
> columns; the heavens pour and rumble and flash. Branches hung with rain,
> the driveway needs therapy, and the roadside gullies run full. The road
> itself resembles an aerial view of a Great Plains drainage, dendritically
> arranged with the main channel and a down lesser branches. Permanent
> streams: full-bore, gushing, loud, brown as the Mississippi; the main
> channel scoured and reamed; water striders flushed into wetlands.
> Intermittent streams: once disabled and dry, arose from the dead; each a
> watery Lazurus that pours with renewed urgency; earth-brown and
> leaf-strewn. Wetlands: lush and swollen; green with satisfaction. Pond:
> over-flow culvert surges with fire-hydrant intensity; raindrops dance on
> the surface. Ancient big-toothed aspen: a limb broke in the wind, hangs by
> a thread, dense and straight down, awaits appointment with gravity. Ash
> seeds litter the road.
> No mosquitos. No deer flies. Birds: mostly silent and motionless. A pair of
> red-eyed videos, stupefyingly tedious, sing, barely audible above the rain
> and rushing water. Flashes of lightning illuminate the clouds, which glow
> for a hypnotic moment, eerie and scary but spellbinding. A world renewed,
> washed, as fresh and temporary as the morning light.
> Three days ago, the big toad that hunts the garden and the front porch,
> feasting on bugs chummed by lettuce and porch light, appeared in the barn
> soaking in the dogs' water bowl, head barely above the surface, legs spread
> . . . my new yardstick for dry. A parched landscape amid a deluge. Much too
> much water to absorb. So it runs down, over, around; fills basins and
> footprints; floods channels; overwhelms rivulets and tributaries; gathers
> behind beaver dams, water levels rising like a tide. Every drop heads
> toward the Connecticut River: 406 miles long; drains 11,260 square miles;
> fed by 148 tributaries, of which thirty-eight are major rivers; pours into
> Long Island Sound at 19,600 cubic feet per second. The heart and soul of
> New England.
> One long, brown pulse of water heads downhill, seeks Long Island Sound. A
> yawning gulf, however, between aspiration and reality. Heading south, water
> must negotiate sixteen dams on the main stem and more than 3,000 on
> tributaries, as well as 44,000 road crossings. Because coursing water moves
> ceaseless and careless along paths of least resistance, not all structures,
> hold tight in flood. Throughout the Connecticut River watershed, Tropical
> Storm Irene (2011) overwhelmed 1,000 culverts and 500 bridges. This is
> *no* Irene,
> but the basin fills as though beaver were still aboard.
> As a distraction from the strange world of Coronavirus, I began sunrise
> walks on March 15, the day after I returned from Costa Rica. A creative
> quarantine; A rediscovery of my homeground. Jordan sleeps. Dogs, faithful
> but puzzled, reluctantly join me on a visit along the ground floor of a
> storm. If John Muir, I reason, could glissade down an avalanche, why can't
> I walk in the rain? Off I go, footloose, and possibly addled. By the time I
> reach the pond, three-quarters of a mile from home, showers metastasize to
> downpour, thunder and lightning escalate. Sky flashes; clouds swell with
> light. A peal of thunder. The ethereal song for veery. A storm song, voice
> cascading out of dark woods, lightens a darker mood. Could there be a
> better finale?
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