Two pairs of pileated woodpeckers breakfast 100 feet apart, one on adjoining oaks and the other side by side on the trunk of a locust.
Rain and fog. A pileated woodpecker performs invasive surgery on a locust tree next to the springhouse, removing a malignant colony of ants.
A violently shaking black walnut branch passes its affliction to an adjacent locust: gray squirrel with an unripe walnut between its teeth.
A pileated woodpecker heading for the tall locusts lets out a whoop with every wingbeat, its crest like the bloody barb of a harpoon.
A perfect morning, clear and cool. A gray squirrel is biting off small branches and carrying them into the thickest part of the tall locust.
The rapid scrabble of claws on bark, that waterfall sound. Three chasing squirrels spiral down the big locust like an animated barber pole.
Dawn. In absolute silence, a pileated woodpecker hitches its way up a locust trunk, silhouette pivoting like a pawl on an invisible ratchet.
When the fog lifts, a flock of chickadees moves in, foraging in the mid-canopy, precipitating a shower of birch and locust leaves.
Halfway to the ground, a locust leaf reverses course and heads for the sky. The cattails whisper, a restive crowd, but the sun never comes.
The black locusts are beginning to yellow as the black birches beside them deepen to orange, alive with kinglets and glowing in the rain.
The corpse of a moth flaps upside-down against the column. Beyond the springhouse, a broken branch dangles—the leaves’ pale undersides.
The squirrel is still stealing twigs from the top of the tall black locust. Food? Bedding? I picture the hidden nest: a crown of thorns.
A rustle from the top of a tall locust: two great blue herons jab at the thorny twigs, spread their wings and launch into the bluest sky.
Fine powder on the wind. The locust tree at the woods’ edge is suddenly full of creaks, like a lapsed Trappist relearning how to talk.