A black ichneumon wasp climbs the white porch column, wings twitching like an ill-fitting suit. The lawnmower sound of a propeller plane.
The stiltgrass stems are beginning to redden. In the shadows of the trees, funnel spider webs still sag with their night’s haul of dew.
Another cold morning: just one bee for all this goldenrod. The neighbors’ rooster like some teenage band member practicing for a pep rally.
Droplets of fog, back-lit by the sun, stream upward into the blue like reverse rain. At the woods’ edge, a migrant phoebe clears its throat.
A cold morning. Two chipmunks calling 100 yards apart fall in and out of sync. Thin clouds block the sun before it ever reaches the porch.
The lilac trembles from without and within: rain hammers the leaves while birds jockey for shelter under them—towhee, cardinal, wren.
Just as the early goldenrod fades, the late begins to bloom. At the wood’s edge, the tulip poplar is having a conversation with itself.
I shift my boots on the railing, and the spider that had been keeping watch from its web retreats to the eaves and curls up like a fist.
It looks like rain, it smells like rain, but the morning passes without a drop. The goldfinches carry on being garrulous. A tree frog calls.
A pileated woodpecker comes yammering into the treetops and proceeds to groom, his clown-red crest flashing as he scratches under his wing.
A green darner zips back and forth, reversing direction so abruptly it looks like a jump cut. From behind the house, the burbling of a wren.
Hoarse cries of a lone Canada goose—I scan the sky and see nothing but blue. A monarch butterfly arcs through the shadows in the yard.
I sit scribbling in a notebook, a pearl crescent butterfly weaving between the legs of my chair. It comes to rest with one wing in the sun.
It’s hot. At last the annual cicadas sound fully charged. The air is alive with tiny insects in non-intersecting orbits back-lit by the sun.
The cloying smell of goldenrod from below the porch. A flower fly comes up to inspect my tan khaki trousers, hovering an inch from my knee.
At just half-light, the young rooster in the neighbors’ coop begins to crow. But the distant train whistle still has more depth, more soul.