After a near lifetime of finding it acceptable to sleep till a normal 7:30 or 8, I now find myself awake most mornings by six.
There's no reason for it. Nor am I particularly eager to get up at that odd hour.
Still, my ears have opened a new world to me: that of the early bird songs. The crows bluster mightily. I know they're near at other times but their calls indicate they seek the coolness of the deeper woods during the warmer hours of summer.
There! That steady rat-a-tat. The bird book identifies it as a pileated woodpecker. "Pie" or "pill"? I thought I had that learned. No longer.
There he is again. He must find plenty in whatever dead tree he's pecking for the number of rat-tat series during a day isn't many. He is becoming a morning fixture, one I know I'll wake one morning to the consciousness that he is no longer outside my window. I'll see if I can't get a visual confirmation before he moves on.
Then there's THAT one - a gargling with vibrato - or is it a vibrating gargle? How could one even begin to describe such an odd noise?
I have the books with their aural charts, a set of CDs, a cassette, even bird calls someone set to music but find none particularly helpful. Sometimes I can pick out what I hear on the piano (though most times the birds seem to find notes between my keys) but the scraps of paper, while piling up on the back of the credenza, aren't much help either. They never correspond to any known calls - on paper or disk.
Now the cardinal! One summer he pecked the attic window day after day ... after more frustrating nerve-wracking days than I care to recount. Screens, pictures, nothing deterred this particular (or peculiar) male. Eventually it was I who learned. He wasn't going to hurt himself and nothing I could do would deter his determination. Besides he didn't care one whit about me. Ultimately, I buried my useless frustration and hiked back upstairs with camera in hand. No way will one get more beautiful close-ups of one very ardent cardinal male.
Breakfast can wait. It's much too lovely a June morning to be attracted to food. Yet.
I slip on rain shoes for the newly-mown lawn blinks with dew. I leave tracks as I meander onward, probably mouth agape. I grow aware of the wonders around me. I have my own cathedral!
I pause to take in the fresh scents.
A robin hops not too far away, tilting its head, then jabs quickly to secure a worm. My world this morning is filled with such wonders.
Breakfast for the geese. They are lined up, patiently waiting for their cracked corn. Has anyone noted how their soft lowing resembles that of a gentle bovine? Messy critters with their youngsters almost fully dressed as adults - the yard is fertile if difficult to cross. Still, they're welcome here till they're ready to go.
Now the feeders are alive. The rose-breasted grosbeaks have to struggle to maintain the bar designed for the smaller finches. Sometimes their golden brothers have all six perches occupied, a dazzle of brilliant color. Mourning doves, now redwings, grackles, and . . .
Oh? Yes, of course. It's that sound again. Will this be my day to finally spot him?
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org