Date: 7/24/20 8:56 am
From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] July 24, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:23 a.m. 62 degrees, wind NW 2 mph. Sky: foggy. Woods: soaked and
dripping. Permanent streams: aroused by rain; fuller and louder than
yesterday. Intermittent streams: current bearing. Wetlands: a bowl of mist;
far shoreline erased; dew-pendant spiderwebs stitched to reeds, glisten.
Pond: although the fog appears confused, heads east and then north and then
east again, my attention situates.

DOR: three-year-old garter snake, in perfect condition
AOR: hermit thrush and robin

A quiet morning. Robins tone down (someone must have complained about
yesterday's racket). Warblers hushed, hidden in woods or elsewhere. Lone
tanager in oak interrupts departure preparations; sings farewell to summer.
Try as I may, I still can't find him. Pewee whistles. Pileated yells, a
volley—*kuk, kuk, kuk—*forceful and wild. Sweet-voiced veery spins fog into
music. House wren ignites. Filling in auditory gaps, red-eyed vireos full
of robust glory, and, for a brief moment, make me forget that on the back
half of summer, chore-driven warblers turn attention to things other than
pieces of music.

At the pond, the outflow culvert similar to the bathroom faucet, a constant
leak. I stare at drip. Then, a clatter of pebbles. The dogs stiffen, and an
otter, emerging from an adventure in the wetlands, scrambles up the bank,
looks askance, and then passes through the drip, up the culvert and into
the pond, flat head just above the surface. Tiny ears. Black button eyes.
Nose, black, and full like the dogs'. Back straight and tail, a long,
muscular cable, arched. Swims back and forth; watches me watch
him, trailing a wake behind him. Otter submerges, leaves behind two
bubbles, and rings of undulating ripples, which turn reflections in Monets.
Surfaces with a fish and a gentle exhale, more a sigh than a blast. Dives,
again. A crayfish. Repeats seven more times. Seven more crayfish, one so
big that claws stick out of the otter's mouth, An imperial sportsman—the
crunching of bones and shells, an audible breakfast.

Above the otter: catbird cuts lose; kingfisher passes back and forth,
rattling. Bittern arrives from wetlands and settles on the mowed lawn, bill
pointing skyward. Looks at me, skeptically, and sways. Walks down to the
shore; nabs brand new green frogs. A second otter walks out of a bank of
ferns. Sees me. Walks back in.

Born of a delicate of a pond: otter's gentle breath; kingfisher's sharp
rattle; painted turtle floating spread-eagle, a poker chip with limbs.
Sunlight turns fog translucent, time stops. Immersed in inexhaustible
delight, I'm a privileged bystander captivated by the moment like the otter
. . . I have no option but to stay.
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