I didn’t take a walk yesterday morning because I went into Burlington to have breakfast with a friend. This morning it was 38 degrees again when I left the house at 5:10 a.m. Standing by my stone wall I could hear a PHOEBE, HOUSE WREN, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, TUFTED TITMOUSE, CHICKADEE, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and ROBIN. As I started down the road, I added a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, WOOD THRUSH, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, OVENBIRD, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, DOWNY WOODPECKER, plus a BLUE JAY and a CROW in the distance. At Blood’s I heard a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, BARRED OWL, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, WINTER WREN and BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER. Near the Brook Trail crossing I heard a SCARLET TANAGER singing in the distance and a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. When I got to the Big Bend I could hear a SCARLET TANAGER singing from the woods near the White Pine meadow. There was a WOOD THRUSH singing in this area too, and a HERMIT THRUSH. Got to the Nature Center’s driveway at 5:45 and heard a small flock of agitated GOLDFINCHES making a fuss. Also heard more than one RED-EYED VIREO and a BROWN CREEPER. Reached the Lookout at 6:00 a.m., just as the sun was about to appear above Mayo Mountain. I just heard a trill that sounds like a JUNCO. The Lookout has always been a place where I can invite clarifying thoughts, but this morning the best I can muster is questions. I have no idea what these early morning walks — or my whole life, for that matter — are all about. I’m not sure it matters. I’m out here wandering and wondering, which should be enough. I’m moving through time — I just don’t know why or where I’m going. Left the Lookout at 6:15 and finally saw the triller perched at the top of a dead birch. It is indeed a JUNCO. Clarity and confirmation feels good amidst all my uncertainties. This section of the Hires Trail with the steep banks above and below it cuts through some great bird habitat: JUNCO, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, HERMIT THRUSH, OVENBIRD, SCARLET TANAGER, and BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER. As I was wandering along I spotted a HERMIT THRUSH and watched him sing his song. It seemed as if he was singing straight from his heart — his whole chest moved when he sang. Are all these singers celebrating Christine Hires for providing them with these woods? Could it be that they’re also serenading me while they’re at it? How can I feel sad amidst all this song? My darkness is certainly stubborn and persistent. All of a sudden I felt like crying, but I didn’t. I leaned against a tree instead and rested for a while. Got to Lichen Rock at 6:45 a.m. Sun’s up well above the horizon and scattering its light on the part of the rock I just walked across. I can see several long strands of spider’s web glistening in the scattered light. The loudest bird song here this morning is a SCARLET TANAGER, with another one singing in the distance. I’m also hearing a BLACK-THROATED GREEN, A HERMIT THRUSH, and a GOLDFINCH. A bird just landed on the ground off to my left — a HERMIT THRUSH I think. Another one flew in and both disappeared into the woods before I could get my binoculars on them. Heard a WINTER WREN and then caught a glimpse of a bird on the ground again. I wonder if a pair of HERMIT THRUSHES is nesting on Lichen Rock? Got back to the road at 7:05 a.m. The SUN is actually warming my back this morning as I start toward home. Spotted a DEAD ROBIN on the side of the road right across from Blood’s old driveway. 7:15 a.m.: Just heard a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER singing from the Audubon woods, also a BLACK-THROATED BLUE. Home at 7:15 a.m.

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