Date: 4/7/21 7:28 am
From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] April 6, 2021: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
6:19 a.m. (sunrise two minutes earlier than yesterday). 45 degrees, wind E
1 mph . . . but powers-up mid-walk, stirring pine boughs, rattling naked
hardwoods. Sky: dappled with windrows of blues and whites, a momentary
mackerel that congeals as I walk. Clouds gilded, silver-white edges. A
dearth of warm colors. Permanent streams: upper, an atmospheric drawdown,
gentle swirls and soft gurgles accompany nearby robins, both singing and
calling. Wetlands: wind picks up, mimics traffic, races across the marsh;
wood-working pileated, hidden in the hemlocks, lobs drum-beats over the
reeds, while chickadees and juncos, barely audible (to me) . . . songs
delivered to more sensitive ears. Sans ducks. Pond: a pair of mallards bolt
on my arrival. An oval peninsula of hole-punched ice, otherwise more than
three-quarters open. Beneath clear water, pieces of bleached crayfish
exoskeleton. Floating on clear water, a band of pond scum hugs the
southwest shore, mostly alder pollen and dust.

Spent alder catkins dry and easily flaked—fresh catkins, soft, pliable, and
yellow. I shake a branch, puffs of yellow pollen fritter away like breath
on a cold morning. Beaked hazelnut (*Corylus cornuta*) catkins, a third of
alder catkins' size, conspicuous along the road. Chickadees ate a few last
fall—a fly-by snack. Plenty of catkins remain. After diligently searching,
I find one female flower open, tiny, tan-colored, and oval, a bud with a
spray of red confetti at the end, like the arms of a sea anemone. Called
*styles*, these elongated extensions of the ovaries wait for pollen—a speck
of color amid limitless brown.

Chickadees, flocks fracturing. Males whistling, couples forming, move
around the yard as duos. Phoebe sounds like a chickadee with laryngitis
(or, to be anatomically correct, *syrinxitis*). Non-stop and harsh, a
grating but a welcome voice that somehow avoids inflaming the singer's
vocal cords. Creepers singing, a cascade of delicate notes.

The commodity of magic. Morning's smaller gifts . . . Lilliputian flowers
and translucent music.
 
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