The butternut chronicle: Nov. 9, 1998

For those who just tuned in, I’m transcribing and reworking the notes from an old journal of mine I just found, consisting entirely of thoughts and observations made while sitting on my front porch. The butternut tree that then dominated the view has since fallen over, and I have yet to reconcile myself to its loss – or to the imminent loss of its species, currently being wiped out throughout its range by a disease of unknown origin and poorly understood epidemiology.

Forty degrees at dawn under partly cloudy skies. The highway is LOUD.

Two pileated woodpeckers in the tall white pines off to my left set up a racket – their usual insane clown laughter. A moment later a red-bellied woodpecker lets loose with a peal of its own, and not to be outdone, a nuthatch starts yelling for all he’s worth. What’s this argument about, I wonder? All three tap on tree bark for a living, but it’s not as if they’re after the same things.

I’m off to State College for the rest of the day. I always have mixed feelings about leaving the mountain, unless it’s to go walking in some other woods. Today, the thermometer climbed to an unseasonably warm high of seventy, and I could kick myself for wasting the day in town.

It’s still sixty-three degrees on my porch at 5:30 p.m. It feels positively luxurious to sit outside at dusk without long johns on.

Oh my god, there goes a bat! You’d think it would have either migrated or gone into hibernation by now. I suddenly remember two nights ago, when I caught a glimpse of something bat-like out of the corner of my eye. I had dismissed it as impossible then, but now I’m not so sure. It was in the low forties that night, so it’s hard to believe there had been any flying insects to catch.

Tonight, though, is another story. When I take another drag on my cigarette, I feel a brush of moth wings against my cheek. I quickly cup my hand over the glowing cherry. I imagine that this bat, atypical as it is, still prefers its food raw, unburnt.

Series Navigation← The butternut chronicle: Nov. 8, 1998The butternut chronicle: Nov. 10, 1998 →

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