April Diary 25: migration time

This entry is part 25 of 31 in the series April Diary


Dear April it’s odd you don’t hear people rhapsodize about the first spiders of spring

there’s nothing like watching a low-angled sun glistening on gossamer threads between the bare shining branches of mid spring

out on the porch i debated whether to dip into Charles Simic or John Stevenson. settled on the latter, read a couple pages and came upon a haibun that could’ve been written by Simic:

the temperatures are due to climb into the low 80s today. glad i got some greens planted yesterday but i’m champing at the bit to get all the other early things in. but it’s blog digest day and besides the Amish-run greenhouse where i hope to get most of my seedlings won’t be open on a Sunday

Amish understand the concept of a day of rest though it’s a luxury most non-Amish can no longer afford. it’s a shame that such things get thrown out as society gets secularized. even so i wouldn’t support bringing back the blue laws. i’d just like to see a cultural shift on the work/life balance — which the pandemic response did seem to spark but it will take a hugely revitalized union movement to really change society-wide ingrained habits

or so the brilliant Maximilian Alvarez argued in a video editorial which i watched during my lunch break on Friday. it made me realize yet again how lucky i am that so much of my time is my own. of course i have to live with the trade-off: no life as most people understand it meaning no wife or kids or career or mortgage or pickup truck. #blessed

anyway here’s Max

cool summer morning
I take my thoughts
out to the porch

John Stevenson with Seneca Kennedy

out at 10:30 for a less strenuous version of my usual walk but i use the time more to plan out my vegetable garden than to focus on what’s around me. i walk right past the trillium patch without remembering to look and i have to backtrack. (they’re still not fully out but probably will be by tomorrow)

walking up Rhododendron Trail I hear my first black-throated green warbler of the year and on the bench in that ravine have a spectacular view of a singing blue-headed vireo making his rounds while another sings 100 yards away

the distant sound of church bells—must be noon

iced herb tea for the first time this year. it was worth the hike

and here’s Stevenson proving that senryu can be just as deep as haiku:


hawk going over high i presume a broadwing since my brother mentioned this morning it was a big day for them (he saw six at once)

discovered a great way to get rid of flies: rather than swat them try photographing them instead, they’ll disappear immediately

two more high hawks drifting northward. i see what Mark meant

living on a mountain that’s part of a linear ridge system hundreds of miles long means we’re on a highway for migrants

(which 200 years ago would’ve been used by human migrants too as part of the Underground Railroad)

finally a blooming shadbush! i was beginning to think we weren’t going to see any this year. of course if it continues warm like this we won’t have them for more than a few days, which will be sad. seeing those little white clouds on all the mountainsides is one of my favorite things this time of year

weezaweezaweezaweezaweeza! black-and-white warbler

i can see why death metal started in south florida—humid heat sends my mood straight to hell

black metallers think that despair is a thing of the cold but no. especially on a rapidly warming planet

(just to clarify this is still what they’d regard as a cool day in south florida, i’m just a wimp)

working on the poetry blog digest I love this typo from Kristy Bowen: “I feel more string as a poet than I ever have”

(no disrespect to her of course—it’s always astonishing to me how much she gets done and still makes time to blog. understandable that copy-editing the blog might be low on her list of priorities)

speaking of south florida, my mother informs me that she and Mark had a brief sighting of a swallow-tailed kite zipping along the ridge just after noon. this was accepted by eBird because Mom had had one other sighting many years ago… and doubted her own sanity until other birders verified that the bird does sometimes wander very far afield from its usual range

and even more warblers are back than i heard on my walk, indifferent birder that i am. also the first wood thrush apparently. which according to family lore always used to return on the day we planted peas. if i were planting peas this year, this would definitely be the weekend to get them in

when i went to open my bedroom window and let in the evening cool, i saw that the cardinals had hatched: blind, naked, trembling, but quick to open their beaks for food when they hear a sound above them—the ersatz shutter on my camera phone

here’s something i wrote back on March 24 about the tree the cardinals are nesting in:

Standing outside my front door on this rainy night is the closest thing to a son or daughter I’ll ever have: an eastern red cedar tree, which I found and transplanted when it was one or two years old back in 1993, and has since grown into a bit of a monster, towering over the house. The old place in Maine where we lived till I was five had a number of juniper bushes in the former pasture, where I used to play a lot, and I think that’s what appealed to me about having a closely related species right by the door. And sure, I knew it would turn into a tree rather than a bush, but I still thought it would stay on the small side. It hasn’t — much to the delight of roosting songbirds. I have to prune branches that rub against the roof, but still, on stormy nights, I hear it thump, thump, thumping against the house.

adding our darkness
to the night

Series Navigation← April Diary 24: dueling banjos, a roomier Rumi, and some moving artApril Diary 26: where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees →

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