Date: 7/22/20 7:51 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] July 22, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:24 a.m. 60 degrees, wind SE 0 mph, an invigorating and breathless sunrise. Sky: a crowd of malleable clouds; swirls and layers; blue-gray with bright rims and shifting hints of mauve; a dynamic and mesmerizing Rorschach test. Last evening, I watched a cloud evanesce, become a trace of itself, and then dissolve into twilight like an Alkaselzer tablet in a glass of water. Permanent streams: wait for rain (like everything else); unhurried and lulled; losing ground to drought by the hour. Wetlands: lusciously green; a suggestion of mist; across the marsh and far up the western flank, a hermit thrush angelically vitalizes the morning; a green frog, in need of tuning, joins in. Pond: threads of exfoliating vapor quickly vanish; part of the cycle of water. Another critical part,* rain*, remains a promise. I want something morning than a thunderstorm . . . a classic and vitalizing soak. (Something my driveway can handle.)
A pair of unhurried robins, pecking and picking, lead me down the driveway. Overhead, high in an oak, tanager rains down his long, raspy-phrased song, not nearly as colorful as his plumage. Ovenbird silent. Alder flycatcher silent. Chestnut-sided warbler silent. Yellowthroat silent. The list goes on . . . and on. Mnemonically, a pewee whistle, signals the next phase; insect chorus replaces bird chorus. Predominant woodland minstrels are crickets; grasshoppers; dog day harvest flies, big and green and popeyed, a high-whining, electronic buzz that overwhelms an afternoon stroll. I imagine I'd need headphones to endure chorusing seventeen-year cicadas.
A pair of red-shouldered hawks screech. Then, one after the other, pass overhead, just above the green archway, still screaming. On view for a nanosecond, their voices lagging behind them.
Last night, after ten o'clock, I stood on the bridge over the outlet of Lake Fairlee and watched comet Neowise, low in the northwest. Below the bottom lefthand star on the leading edge of the Bigger Dipper. Just a smudge in the unmarred emptiness of the sky, a fuzzball with a broad, dimly lit squirrels' tail. Headed west toward Colorado, toward Casey and Becky. I watched the comet and thought of my son and daughter-in-law, on the verge of Colorado National Monument; their home sky star-spangled and dark as my cellar. Comet-perfect like Vermont night. Comet last passed this way 6,800 years ago, just after the discovery of cheese. Back then, lions lived in England; leopards in Greece; steppe bison in Alaska; dwarf mammoths on Wangle Island; jaguars in Florida; miniature elephants on Mediterranian isles; ground sloths in Cuba. Hawaii was an unpeopled island chain. Fresh from glacial refuges off the Carolina Coast, rattlesnakes returned to the Northeast. Back then, no one rode a horse or ate rice.
So much happened in 6,800 years . . . a geologic eye blink. So much happened in four months, a deplorable misstep. Where are those three men on camels?