Wood thrush, cerulean warbler, red-eyed vireo, Baltimore oriole—song by song I tick them off as yellow petals fall from the tulip tree.
The tulip tree’s in bloom. I peer through binoculars at the enormous yellow cups dripping with nectar, lotuses of the upper air.
A breeze stirs the tulip tree from top to bottom, its four-fingered mitts rocking, cautious as the queen of England’s white-gloved wave.
Two squirrels grappling or grooming on a thin tulip poplar branch, among nubbins of new leaves. One slips and falls 30 feet to the ground.
Windy and clearing. Amidst all the twirlers and spiralers, one tulip poplar leaf plummets straight to the ground, folded like an umbrella.
One tulip tree limb is a-quiver: a pair of squirrels nibble on each other’s fur. Love or parasites? A cricket calls from under the bergamot.
That buzz from just inside the woods: chipping sparrow or worm-eating warbler? The four-fingered tulip tree leaves flip back and forth.
The tulip tree’s enormous flowers are opening, yellow and orange petals dripping nectar, accompanied by the wood thrush’s choir of one.
From the moment I come out, the world conspires to wake me up: yesterday, the tulip tree dropped a branch; today, a Cooper’s hawk swoops in.
The last few feet of the tulip poplar’s lowest branch is yellow, the portion that had been stuck in the snow—debarked by hungry mice.