The day after Earth Day

2:00 a.m. The first-quarter moon is down, and the sky — viewed without my glasses — is a smudge of dim, dinner plate-sized lights. I pee onto the driveway, careful not to splash my bare feet.

coltsfoot fly

8:00 a.m. After a mostly sleepless night, I think at first I’m imagining things. I cup my hands to my ears, trying to hear over the roar of traffic from the interstate. Could that really be a hermit thrush? I walk quickly up into the woods and sit down on a log to listen.

How to describe it? The song of the hermit thrush is an elfin thing, full of crystal bells and moonlight and the kind of unanswerable questions most of us stopped asking after the first grade. The thrush must’ve flown all night, steering by the stars.

It’s a shame he wasn’t here yesterday morning, when it was so quiet. Now it’s Monday, and the people who know what Jesus thinks are eating Egg McMuffins while they drive, delivery trucks are making deliveries, and the schoolbuses are returning riderless to their barns.

Elanor at the big birch

10:30. The woods smell of heat. With the sun high over the leafless trees and the dying mountain laurel, there’s nothing to shield the ground from the shadows of hawks.

hepatica wasp

1:00 p.m. A red-bellied woodpecker trills and trills from the top of the tall locusts in the yard. I doze off with the window open, picturing the farm as seen from above: a green and brown bowl. A woodpecker’s paradise.

daffodil bumblebee

4:30. Camera in hand, I stand by the springhouse watching garter snakes circle the daffodils as if searching for something. Tongues flicker briefly as they pass each other. I can hear the whisper of their bodies, interlocking scales sliding over the dead leaves.


See also my mother’s post, Earth Day.

6 Replies to “The day after Earth Day”

  1. Happy that the hermit thrush heralded your morning today, Dave — and those are hepaticas already? Wow, spring is really going to come all in a rush, which makes it more imperative to get out and see it every day.

  2. Yes. Actually, the first hepaticas were out at the beginning of April, before all the snow. Yesterday the rue anemone was out, too.

  3. I’m convinced that I’ve been hearing the hermit thrush here too. I keep scanning the trees, but can’t see who is singing that song. It’s a sound I love, it wakes something up in me that I didn’t know was sleeping.

    I like the shadow of hawks coming through the leafless trees.

  4. What a revelation (the word she uses for her encounters with coyotes)! Your mother has been blogging (albeit off and on) since 1997! Or did she start the site more recently and post previously written journal entries on it? (You may have explained all of this somewhere.)

    Either way, she has a joy of a site.

  5. Peter – We tried to explain it on the About page. The site dates only from this January; prior to that, her columns were posted on a Geocities page. Eventually, we hope to have up all of her monthly columns going back to 1993. But she’s only really been blogging in the strict sense since February. Blogs just happen to be a very handy, simple and cheap way to present chronologically organized material online. The WordPress category/tag system works dandy for indexing, and it also draws in an amazing amount of searches from Google, etc.

    Anyway, I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying her site.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.