Half awake at half-light. The dawn chorus starts promptly at 5:00 with field sparrow and towhee, then song sparrow, phoebe, robin. Train horn.
Sunnier than promised at mid morning. The singers have slowed—wren, phoebe, field sparrow—as if in dialogue with silence.
Out in time for the tail end of the dawn chorus: field sparrow, red-eyed vireo, pewee, goldfinches, catbird. No more wood thrushes, alas.
Venus in the dawn sky. Phoebe, field sparrow, wood pewee. The alarm-snorts of a deer.
Overcast and still. A field sparrow’s accelerating note. A turkey hunter and his wife, led by their dog, carry a tree stand into the woods.
The temperature’s back below freezing—the price we pay for such an achingly blue sky. Up by the garage, a field sparrow’s accelerating chant.
Overcast. The first milky-white peony is open, facing the road where a sparrow struggles to swallow a large green caterpillar.
A field sparrow fresh from bathing and a hummingbird fresh from fighting sit two feet apart on a walnut branch, shaking their feathers.
Faint sunlight. A gnatcatcher’s nasal notes against the background noise of field sparrows. My mother calls to come look at a dead mole.
Holes in the clouds by late morning. Field sparrows trill almost non-stop. My mother says she can smell my coffee way up in the woods.
Overcast. A field sparrow’s ascending note. In the dead grass below the stone wall, an otherwise motionless garter snake tastes the air.
A kestrel lands on a limb at the woods’ edge, looks around and flies off, skimming the ground. The field sparrow barely pauses his song.
Distant gunshots from the shooting range in the valley. The impression of rising excitement in a field sparrow’s song.
Dark clouds in the west lit up by the sun—backdrop for the first turkey vultures of spring, 14 of them, circling. A field sparrow sings.