The thread

Yesterday the garter snakes came out, the wood frogs clucked in the marsh, and the first coltsfoot bloomed among the stones at the side of the road. Today, a little past noon, I watched the feral cat pounce on a snake made torpid by the cold. A couple of bites and it stopped wriggling. The cat saw me and ran with her prize dangling up under the lilac, where she crouched and crunched. When I came back out twenty minutes later, she had eaten everything but the head — four yellow eyes were staring at me, and then just two. I pictured all those vertebrae passing through her gut.

Just now, new software installing itself on my desktop computer, flock after flock of tundra swans passing over the house, singing their way north as I catch a whiff of corpse from under the floor, I think suddenly of the thread that ties this all together: how fragile it is, and how you need to stretch it almost to the breaking point before it will produce a single note.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

22 Comments


    1. “April is the cruelest month”–that’s almost literally true here. March and April is starvation season for so many critters. Some of the Indians called it the Hunger Moon.

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  1. I vote aye with the rest. I appreciate the lines about the vertebrae passing through the cat.

    I have never in my life seen a tundra swan and I am envious.

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  2. I like this a lot, dave. Noticing that thread, I think, stretches us. Then we make the sound, sometimes music sometimes an anguished cry, for noticing.

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    1. I think I’m actually somewhere between music and anguish much of the time.

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  3. Gorgeous last line.

    I also like your new favicon. Is it a character or just a squiggle? I see a bird with big wings and its beak in the water.

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    1. Thanks. I switched favicons when I switched blog hosts, but i didn’t do it right at first, so it may only be showing up in some browsers and feed readers now, as caches clear. I stole it from the Wikipedia, where you can even see an animation of the character being written. It’s the sound a Zen cow makes.

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  4. Down here in Charlottesville VA, the Canadian geese are passing through — one dropped by Downtown and walked around a bit, while I was attending the VA Book Fair. Dang, but those are big birds! Though not quite so awesome as herons. ;-)

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    1. I made my way to your Morning Porch via Cassandra Pages, wondering what the recording of tundra swans sounded like.
      Oh, man, you made my day. Magical, ethereal sound. I am extremely envious that you live in a place with such beauty. Thanks for the recording.

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      1. Hi Mary – Glad you liked that. Thanks for commenting; I need to be reminded sometimes that something I almost take for granted is really quite special. And we really are lucky to be living smack in the middle of the flyway, especially given how few and far between large bodies of water are in central PA.

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    2. The problem with the Canada geese is that we have so many year-round residents now, which can fly over at any time of the year, it has kind of taken the magic out of hearing the migrants twice a year. We also get snow geese going over.

      As for their size, yeah, at close range on dry land a Canada goose is a lot more imposing than one would’ve expected.

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  5. This image of the overtuned thread is so perfect for the time of the hunger moon. And I love the backward echo of the vertebrae going through the cat!

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    1. Backward echo, right. I knew there had to be a name for that. Glad you liked.

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  6. Love the sound of the tundra swans! Beautiful. And nice post, too. I walked in the woods here this afternoon and it looked like November – the snow’s mostly melted, but it’s just shades of dull brown and nothing alive as yet.

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    1. Yes, even the non-natives haven’t greened up yet. The woods is very dry here, too, due to the dearth of snow. Last year we got four inches on this date.

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  7. Nice reminder of the spring that I am missing this year. A couple of days ago, I found myself wondering if the Wood frogs in the drainage creek behind the barn are clucking yet. That will probably have passed before I’m back in eastern Ontario. Have seen Canada geese in meadows here in Utah during my journey northwards. Yes, you’re right, they can be imposing — especially the ones that stop at a flyway park up in Ontario near my place. They can be more than a little intimidating when a couple of dozen of them decide that they’d like your sandwich and form a hissing circle around your picnic table.

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    1. Hi Bev. Well, it’s gotten down cold again here, so I’m sure it’s even colder in Ontario. The wood frogs haven’t come out again, and the coltsfeet closed back up. So spring might just wait for you. I gather there’s one hell of a blizzard between you and home right now.

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