April 22nd, 2006



Ah, there's nothing like the smell of skunk in the morning!

That loopy woodpecker is still trying to drill into the mailbox up the block every day. I wonder what makes him persist? Has he discovered a new species of insect that lives in metal? Is he attracted to the residual scent of those perfume strips that come in magazines? Does he imagine that he's an alarm clock?

A more sensible woodpecker is pecking on a tree nearby, making a more pleasant sound, a bit like something one might hear in a piece of Japanese music. It's sharp, yet resonant, and austere, yet rich. Woodpeckers make some of the best music.

The rain which looked as though it might fall yesterday afternoon finally arrived after midnight, but only as brief, rapid showers interspersed with periods of fine mist. Earlier, there had been bright flashes of sheet lightning to the north, but never any sound of thunder followed.

A gray morning filled with wet white lilies and pale red camellias, the moss lush and dark green, the pavement shiny and the trees motionless in the cool, still air. Now that the odor of skunk is dissipating, I can smell wood and grass, and the smoke of someone's morning fire. By the time I wake up this afternoon, it could be entirely different. April is full of surprises.


The voices of the frogs are getting deeper. Conditions this year have been beneficial to them, and a large number have apparently survived long enough to become large, baritone frogs. If the rain and cool weather continue through most of the spring, I expect I'll be hearing a chorus of basso profundo frogs by the end of May. Tonight, the chorus sounds as though it's celebrating the damp, gray day which just brought them another freshening of their ponds and streams. The night is dark and quiet, the sky blanketed by clouds, the moon not yet risen, and the sound of the frogs carries a good distance. Frog music on such a night is as restful as the purring of a cat.

Rain, however slight, has removed the pollen from the air once again, and I was able to enjoy the mild afternoon while still being able to breathe. Breathing adds immeasurably to the pleasures of a day, I've found. Once one has become accustomed to inhaling air, it's a vice not easily surrendered. I'm surprised that something so intoxicating has not been made illegal, or at least hit with a substantial sin tax. Personally, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm drunk on air at this very moment. My window is open, and all the rich, dank scents of a damp night are flowing in, along with just a hint of wood smoke. All of it free! I can't believe how lucky I am.

This uncommonly wet season has provided the mulberry tree outside my window with the most lush and extensive coat of moss it's ever worn. Most of the trunk and the lower branches are concealed beneath its dense green softness. By the dim light of dusk, I fancied that it was a Sasquatch, or maybe the Green Knight's gnarled and shaggy cousin, waiting for full darkness when he would shamble off on some nocturnal exploration of the surrounding fields and woodlands. I haven't heard him move yet, though. Maybe he continues to stand there because my drapes are drawn back and he can peer in at me. He would probably wonder why I sit indoors, pecking away at this keyboard, bathed in the monitor's light, while the splendid night is passing. He would be right to wonder. I think I'll go out and see if he wants company on his walk.