In Time

6:15 in the morning was just starting to look nice. For about a week. Then along comes Daylight Savings Time. This morning's 6:15 AM was much, much darker than Saturday's 6:15 AM.

After dinner: Lots of time 'til bedtime. Plenty of time to bake a cake, sit by the fire, read Aku Aku aloud, thumb through the newly arrived Native Seed/SEARCH catalog for ancient cultivated crop seeds from the southwest... To boot, we just vacuumed the house after a few months of slacking - the palette cleansed, mind cleared, vacant spiderwebs swept aside.

I glanced at the clock: 7:00 PM. Wait, I'll be falling asleep in a couple hours. Wait, what happened to the time?

We ducked outside as the light was fading to hear the last cries of the woodcock.

"Peent!" I heard over the sqeaking door hinges as we tiptoed out the door. "Peent!" Twitter, twitter went the bird's wings as he swept over the house.

We waited, but he was done. Sunday evening was his first night out, maybe he's just warming up after a retiring year in the Sourlands forest.

His call reminds me that I haven't spent enough time watching the juncos. Their flight is magical: they accelerate incredibly after a few seconds in the air. I haven't observed the habits of the siskins closely enough. I haven't seen the sun, a fleck of mica in the cloudy January sky, illuminate the silvery bark of the white oaks, beeches and birches, but just ten times or so.

Skunk cabbage flowers in greens and purples, speckled and plain, fern fiddleheads appear like tight little knots, the buds of the trees are swelling. All this that I wish for sends the juncos and siskins north, sends the mica sun south in exchange for a golden summer sun, platinum tree bark hides in a cloak of green bedecked with a scarlet tanager.

This is real time. Not the tight figure eight of work days, nor the boxes upon boxes of calendar time.

It is the expectation of the moon coming and going, spring rains and spring peepers, the quieting of the songbirds at nesting time, the gathering of the hawks, the return of the juncos... The woodcock knows the time, and he tells me easily.

Meadow at Night, Sourlands, New Jersey