December 1978


Took my last walk of the old year at about 8:20 p.m. It was unseasonably warm. The road was slushy and snow was melting off the roof of the house. I don’t see any wildlife on my night walks, but I need the exercise anyhow. Felt a twitch and a bad vibration when I walked past the Nature Center. Thought I saw the glow of someone’s cigarette on the front porch. Bad feelings.

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Christmas. A huge storm. It snowed most of the day. More than a foot of snow by the time it stopped. Every bird in the neighborhood was at the feeder.

Sitting on Poet’s Rock on a clear winter day. Solstice occurred last night at 12:21 a.m. The year has turned around and started the other way. Possible New Year’s subjects: Janus, calendars.

Sawed down a SUMAC to look at it inside and out. Twigs fuzzy–feel like they’re covered with velvet. Buds look like they’re covered with brown hair. Leaf scar almost surrounds the bud–like a heart-shaped, clasping V. The fruits are little red furry seeds packed in a tight cluster at the tips of some branches. Brown bark, then a few thin green layers, then a white layer, then a yellow-green (chartreuse) series of rings, then a cottony center. Bob made me a napkin ring out of a segment of a branch. He says live or dead wood is about equal to work with.

Male DOWNY at the suet this morning. Bright red patch on the back of his head. Strong tail feathers braced against the suet as he eats. A small flock of GOLDFINCHES just arrived, and the red squirrel has climbed up to the feeder. Goldfinches like mixed seed. They’re ground feeders, but they’ll take seeds from feeders too. Goldfinches make high little weeeep, weeeep, weeeep sounds. I heard them before I saw them.