May 2023

Cloudless and cool. Craneflies drift through shafts of sun like angels with spider legs, as the afterimages from a night of terrifying dreams fade from view.

Cold and clear 40 minutes before sunrise. A shadow flutters in beside the porch and begins to shriek: whippoorwill. When he finally stops, the meadow is alive with twittering.

As early as I get up, I still feel like a late riser: just past six and the birds are already winding down, the sun glimmering though the trees—an eye reddened by smoke from distant forests.

A few minutes past sunrise, from the still-deep shadows under the trees, the song of a vagrant Swainson’s thrush, hoarse but ethereal, rising in pitch like a rhetorical question.

High-altitude murk gives the low-angled light a timeless feel. It’s barely above freezing, but the birds still sound ecstatic. Tennessee or Blackburnian warbler? That accelerating buzz…