Date: 11/4/20 8:39 am
From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] November 4, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
6:29 a.m. 30 degrees, wind WSW 2 mph. Sky: high in the west, a sad-faced
three-quarter moon presides over an empty vault; last night's ambassador .
. . so polished, so pensive. Even the clouds are still in bed. Permanent
streams: untracked snow on banks; water swirls around white rocks.
Wetlands: five sober crows high in a vacant sky, three fly west, two north;
not a *caw* between them. Pond: parchment of ice across most of the
surface; mink ballad, a line of paired prints that end with the author
standing on hind legs; curiously watches me watch him—a big, poker-faced
male, cream white chin, everything else profoundly dark against a backdrop
of ice and snow—a supple, wild mammal on an otherwise bleak, post-election

Sexual dimorphism: variance of size between the sexes the hallmark of
raptors and *mustelids* (weasel family) . . . but in reverse, a mirror
image. Female owls and hawks, the frontline of nest defense, dwarf males
are the dutiful provisioners. A male mink dwarfs a female, mates like a WWW
deathmatch. Chases his partner, pins her by the scruff of the neck, abuses
her like a tempest, vigorously and expeditiously. A breeding system honed
over millions of years that has yielded fascinating dividends: weasels,
minks, fisher, martens, wolverines, ferrets. Otters, however, are more
dignified, more social, raise their pups together—a two-parent family.

Once, I watched a mink mate. Nothing pretty about it. An unrequited
romance, a tactless encounter. The word *rape* comes to mind . . . but,
nevertheless, the odd and gruesome ritual yields results. Had my mother
only known the *true *nature of the beast whose fur kept her warm and chic?

Four precious chickadees spread joy, cast a ray of hope across
my unmanageable anticipation.
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