Date: 7/31/20 12:16 pm From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] July 30, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:34 a.m. 57 delightful degrees; wind SE 1 mph. Sky: who knows? Eclipsed by
ground fog, thick enough to drip off leaves; fog spreads like the Tenth
Plague on the House of Egypt; visibility a hundred yards or less. Permanent
streams: upper creeps west toward the marsh, a shadow of itself; lower
reduced to two puddles; water elsewhere a rumor; the striders, long
gone, have given up. Wetlands: contours obscured in the density of the fog,
more chowder than soup. Pond: tendrils of mist; a single painted turtle
floating; sees me and sinks like a stone. The hum of crickets rises from
the berm. No otter. No merganser. No bittern. Milkweed pods ripen. No sign
of a monarch. Where is* Very Hungry Caterpillar(s)*, which ought to be
stripping down leaves? Webworm tents multiply and swell, mostly in black
cherry; one in alder (a dietary mixup)—cuckoo silent or gone or waits in
the murk for the fog to disperse.
In 1927, hermit thrush became State Bird of Vermont. There were more than a
hundred other birds to choose from.
Hermit thrush, a virtuoso in the gloaming, distills the mist into scraps of
song, hollow and haunting like a crippled flute. Half a dozen thrushes
sing; half a dozen fragments as ephemeral as the summer sun. A maverick and
solitary songbird returns to the stage for an encore performance after
others fade away—scaps of a song in the morning fog. I pause spellbound.
Thrushes sing mid-level in the woods, below the canopy, above the floor.
Does the leafy ceiling direct and amplify sound? Ovenbirds also sing at
mid-level but their voice, loud and sharp, bludgeons. Thrushes soothe and
quench; roll out of hidden crags and recesses. Ushers me into the moment,
prisoner of the moment for a moment . . . which all I *really* have.