Autumn in April

Autumn in April:
leaves drift down from a beech tree,
maples are red again.


A millipede is climbing
the bathroom wall
next to the toothbrushes.


Three red-tailed hawks
dive-bomb each other
in the unseasonable heat.


The hugely pregnant
feral cat stares balefully
from behind the hyacinths.


The sprouted millet
still shows a little yellow;
goldfinches, a little green.


When the rain subsides,
a blue-headed vireo’s
deliberate song.


Watched the bears till dark.
In the morning, muddy pawprints
on the windows.


In the porcupine-girdled
branches of the plum tree,
a male cardinal.

16 Replies to “Autumn in April”

  1. I know the Autumn in Spring thing! Wonderful stuff all! Porcupine girdles!

    From these parts, and I really shouldn’t perpetrate before your audience, but I will, so very sorry in advance:

    A cowbird with one good wing
    thinks invisible
    as dogs pass it by.


    The song of a yellow throated warbler
    climbs down the same
    creaky stairs.


    Tiger swallowtail
    transits log truck,
    both a particle and a wave.

  2. Jean and brightfeather – So glad you enjoyed these. All things that happened this weekend, jotted down during breakfast this morning.

    Bill – Never apologize for leaving creative responses to a post; I can’t think of a better kind of comment. In the third one, are you talking about the way butterflies catch the airflow up overtop of a moving vehicle and usually elude going splat on the windshield? An uncle of mine once very memorably described watching a cabbage white cross eight lanes of traffic in a highway in northern New Jersey.

  3. Oh the southwest advancing Monarchs are epic to watch crossing the divided highway, utterly on their own paths, mostly making it, but then you think westward and southward all the highways yet to be forded. Wow! There are lots of Monarchs (I think) out now.

    Today it was an empty tractor/trailer log truck in low gear on a gravel road. The butterfly chose to fly under the trailer, between the wheels so to speak. As you are, we are a mile or so from a highway, though I think it is smaller than yours, from which a world-devouring growling thunders on mornings when the wind is blowing from the south. It was nice to see the butterfly get nuthin’ but net (think basketball) on the log truck. It’s appalling, of course, just plain mean, that crushing butterflies should be the matter of fact part of our daily routine that it is. It’s one of those things for which forgetfulness is so useful. When it do it, it always seems to strike into me, as though with a rod, proof of something very wrong at the core of our way of life. In our love of machinery we keep such dreadful company. So, again, it was really a gift to watch the butterfly go through the truck, and the dogs run by the wounded cowbird (which I happened to have shot!) sight unseen. I admire you for being carless. And I hope you didn’t cut your hair!

  4. Quackster – Thanks for stopping by. Glad you found something of interest here.

    Bill – Monarchs are of course relatively straight-line flyers, since they don’t have to worry about being eaten, so they aren’t as fun to watch in flight as other butterflies with their highly evolved randomness. Tiger swallowtails are somewhere in between, I guess. I don’t think a cabbage white could manage a feat like that!

    You’re shooting cowbirds?

  5. Tragically, yes, scattershot since I don’t have a pellet gun, and with dismal results, one dead, two “winged”. I haplessly find myself in the middle of a bloody war, with rats and groundhogs too, with a dog as my general and there are no civilians. I am now withholding birdseed, which as well seems to have been hard medicine. Most of the yardbirds have now cleared out after several days of obviously being very hungry. Clearly, my behavior is idiotic. The hummingbirds are here so now I’ll make sure the sugar keeps truckin’ north from the razed forests of Honduras to feed them. In the winter I do my best to make sure that little grows in Kansas but black oil sunflower. I’m a telling fragment of a society gone wrong! But hey it’s spring time now and even I can sense that I’m not responsible for any part of that.

    Very interesting what you write about the flight patterns of butterflies.

  6. Well, that’s one of the reasons I quit vegetable gardening some years ago – it was no fun being at war with the wildlife. I’ll leave that up to the local Amish, instead, who don’t live surrounded by woods. Folks in town think they have it bad if they get one groundhog. I shot and trapped 25 one year, and they kept coming. And the deer always managed to get over or through our 8-foot-tall fences once we no longer had dogs.

    But if you’re shooting cowbirds, I assume that’s to protect the nestlings of interior forest songbirds. We’ve never been able to convince ourselves that it was O.K. to take such an interventionist role, especially against a native species that has simply expanded its range in response to humans’ fragmenting of the eastern forest.

  7. Yes, to protect tanager babies, or something like that. I’m scarcely on a campaign, having only loosed four or five rounds over the last 15 years, mostly hoping to drive them off. I didn’t convince myself of anything, I just got flustered when they mobbed the feeder and started shooting. I couldn’t image your family shooting cowbirds, but I am glad to hear your thoughts on the matter. Your mom feeds corn, I think, to birds. Does she continue when the cowbirds arrive?

    It must be nice to be at peace. Maybe you don’t even have to battle mice or rats. I pretty sure our gently run prison camp of chickens and, I’m sorry to say, horses, who scarcely seem to have any natural allies, has really promoted the mice and rat populations around here.

  8. Mom stops feeding birds in April. Gray squirrels rob seed throughout the winter, but we don’t shoot at them. We do trap mice; no rats since we stopped keeping poultry years ago. You’re right – I’m not a big fan of horses, unless they’re used to plow or pull wagons, etc. Riding as a substitute for walking is hard for me to understand.

  9. Me too! I’m reassured to hear that my birdfeeding behavior has converged with your mom’s. I must be on a good path! Thanks. I don’t have a problem with feeding squirrels, who were supposed to have been short of nuts over the winter, though I didn’t look closely or see any evident distress. Interesting how my awareness of animal distress or well being depends on information other than directly observable behavior.

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