September 1978


There’s a PILEATED WOODPECKER hanging around the house. Bob thinks it’s the same one–a female–that’s been visiting him when he’s working in the woods. Just now (1:30 p.m.) she flew out of a nearby tree and made noises at me when I was walking toward the garden. She seems to be paying a lot of attention to both Bob and me. Her call sounds like a flicker’s. There seem to be a lot of birds on and near roads these days, and they don’t seem to move out of the way of cars very efficiently. I’ve hit two recently, and it makes me sad.

A PILEATED WOODPECKER buzzed my student Dan Childs and me when we were walking toward the barn today.

THIS IS THE DAY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT VISITED US IN OUR HOME. An agent from the Fish and Wildlife Service knocked on the front door, read us our Miranda Rights, and proceeded to try to intimidate the hell out of us. I finally reached the end of my tether and asked him what exactly Bob was accused of doing, and he didn’t really have an answer. The Eastmans had gotten him all worked up by telling him that Bob had stolen his bird skins from Audubon and was hiding them in his own home. The truth of the matter was that Bob had arranged to transfer them to the state, and he and Charles Johnson were in the process of doing what needed to be done. Charles actually had them. So the worst Bob could be accused of is not having filed his paperwork. It was an uncomfortable experience and not anything I want to go through again. How do I get myself into these things? Later I took a walk and saw lots of CHIPMUNKS running across the road.

CLUSTER FLIES all over the place–indoors, outdoors. Buzz, buzz against the window in the study, so I opened it to let them out. Still buzz, buzz, so I guess they didn’t really want to get out. Outdoors it’s buzz, buzz up against the house. They’re crawling all over the outside of the house too, hundreds of them, plus a few wasps. Up in a beech-birch grove in my woods I found some porcupine work around the base of a huge beech. The porcupine had almost girdled it. The scar is maplike with what looks like swishes of teeth marks. Actually it looks quite artistic. A chipmunk is rustling in the leaves nearby. Crickets are chirping in the background. Living in Vermont would be fine if I would let it be. It’s a clear fall day with warm sun and the smell of pine in the air. I am surrounded by pleasures, but I am twisted inside by something that drives me every which way up blind alleys. Anger, anxiety, unrest. Maybe if I spent more time with things and less with people, I’d be OK. On my way home I saw some CLOSED GENTIANS on Spear Memorial Highway.

The world is very chipmunky these days. Last night at Mickey and Bob’s we saw a half-grown chipmunk in a tree outside the window. This morning I saw one small chipmunk in a hole in one of the maple trees out front and another scooting into a hole in the rocks near where the bridge crosses the brook. MUSHROOM COLORS: deep yellow golds, brilliant reds, rich tans, stark whites, browns, pinks.

Singing insects are still singing. The CLUSTER FLIES in my study are driving me crazy. I saw a mixed flock of CHICKADEES, WARBLERS, AND VIREOS working through the trees where Bob is clearing the old logging road. For warblers, I saw a BLACK-AND-WHITE, NASHVILLE, and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. I also noticed several different MUSHROOMS AND FUNGI — the one that looks like a horse’s hoof growing on a gray birch; a small, dry, white shelf fungus growing in a crowded array; another small, tannish golden shelf fungus that was a little moister than the white one and might even be a fresher version of the same species; a flat white fungus growing out of the soil in groups like overlapping plates; little orange mushrooms growing out of a rotting log; a thick white shelf fungus that looks like a mushroom cap growing from a yellow birch tree. In the brushy, grassy area near where Bob is clearing, I saw a DESTROYING ANGEL and some AMANITA MUSCARIA.

FIRST FROST LAST NIGHT. When we were driving up Sherman Hollow Road at about 9:30 p.m., we saw a PORCUPINE waddling up the road. It was startled enough by the car that it actually galloped a few paces.

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