At about 5:45 every morning I get up from in front of the computer, fetch the hummingbird feeder, and step outside on the deck to hang it. We have two feeders: the one on the other side of the house hangs from the second-story eve in front of Richard’s window. I raise and lower that one by a rope and pulley to change the sugar water, but I don’t have to bring it in because it is too high for anything to bother. The one on my side of the house must be brought in at night because is easily reached by any marauding raccoon that happens to pay us a visit.
The sky is beginning to lighten, but it is still very dark outside, and the trees surrounding the back of the house loom as black shadows.
The cardinals have already started to sing—they are usually the first ones to greet the coming dawn—but suddenly I hear the ethereal sound of a wood thrush, very, very close by. He is in a tree on my left, probably one of the pine trees or perhaps the birch tree that have grown up very tall since we planted them as seedlings shortly after we moved here. This is one of those birds that is heard but is seldom seen. I remember years ago the Charles Kuralt Sunday Morning program we used to watch on CBS did a feature on songbirds that were vanishing because of loss of habitat. The closing moments of that piece singled out the wood thrush, with the voice over wondering if in the future the song would be silenced.
I have heard this bird on occasion over the years since then as he passed through going someplace else. But this Spring he seems to be staying. I have been pleased to hear his song when walking to the pond or to the edge of the woods at the back of our land, but I have never heard it this close to the house. I am almost afraid to move as it continues to sing, and then it is silent, probably having flitted away.
The air is still and is beginning to warm a bit, and the sky looks clear, so I return to my computer and heave open the window that will provide some visual diversion from the work of the day. It gets lighter and lighter, and a little breeze has started up, and immediately, a puff of air wafts in. I expect to smell the faint sweetness coming from several clumps of multiflora rose that have begun blooming near the back of the house (I remind myself to put “chop down multiflora rose” on the growing list of things to do in the yard that I can tackle, if it will stop raining on the weekends when I have time to do it).
But instead of smelling flowers, there is the pungent odor of rotting flesh. Some animal has died nearby. It probably was struck on the highway and was thrown off the road into the brush, or mortally wounded, it crawled off out of sight of the state’s pick-up-dead animals-on-the-highway crew to suffer a wretched death. Or maybe it just "dropped dead", like that poor opossum we found earlier in the Spring. I guess I will be smelling it for a few more days.
The alarm on my computer goes off reminding me to take my blood pressure medicine.
Another day begins...