It’s spring. The sky is blue blue blue.
Millie and I are standing on the corner (or more precisely: standing near the corner) of Charles and Greenwich streets. At corgi-level, Millie is enamored of one lingering dinner-plate-sized gritty ice chunk that will probably have melted by the end of the afternoon. My coat is unbuttoned and unzipped and I’m even debating whether it’s warm enough to take it off. Trying not to pull Millie along, I’m just letting her hesitation waltz-step-step choreograph where we’re headed next.
Between the magical garden at 121 Charles Street and the roof-top Stephan Weiss oasis across the way, the matinee cast of avian headliners is astounding. A pair of Blue Jays jay jay jay around the corner. They’ve been loudly crisscrossing the neighborhood for weeks. It seems like this is an amorous flirtation rather than the usual territorial feathersticuffs. I’ve seen a pair, arguably not this pair, contentedly billing (though not cooing) on a branch, as an interlude in their roughhousing.
The cheer-ro cheer-ro cheer-ro of a male Cardinal sounds out as though through a megaphone from the highest chimney on the block. This guy’s looking for love in all the right places. Just on the other side of the wall, under a budding shrub no doubt, is the familiar wintertime lament Oh sweet, Canada Canada Canada from a White-throated Sparrow—soon off to his Canadian sweetheart in the still-frozen north.
While a formation of seven crows caw caw caw overhead heading south, a consortium of Robins are puffing their orange breasts with their caroling cheerup cheerup cheerup as well as some cheerios and cheerys and just plain cheer cheer cheers thrown in for variety. I’m still missing the large cherry tree branch—just behind the Secret Garden wall—that broke off last summer from its June burden of overripe cherries (and probably from the weight of some of these same Robins in their drunken revelry feasting on those same spiked sweetmeats.)
Remarkably there’s a Tufted Titmouse somewhere down the street with his peter peter peter resounding at a volume far louder than should be possible from such a small flittery fellow, though the descending staccato call of a Downy Woodpecker mid-block in the other direction is a fierce competitor in the volume sweepstakes. Maybe that little black-and-white rat-a-tat-tater is sending out Morse code invitations right now to all of his feathered buddies for this April block party.
A Mourning Dove flies to the eave across the intersection, then relocates nearly immediately to a fire escape railing, and next, to a windowsill further down Charles. Another dove follows behind like a flat stone skipping on a still pond—only the muffled whistling of their wings ripples through the air. On the highest possible branch of a Callery Pear tree behind me, the warbling of a pink, striped House Finch bends my ear; its gurgling, burbling and murmuring seem to bend even the twig it is sitting on.
Finally, the madcap masquerade of a Mockingbird shouts out from the top of the ivy-costumed wall barely six feet from me. I try to stand still to hear at least a few rounds of his fanciful repertoire. As a warm-up, he impersonates a few of the avian fellows already in audience, but tosses off the notes of a Carolina Wren, a Chickadee, a Phoebe, and a Nuthatch as well, probably just to boast. When he sneaks in the falling whine of a Red-tailed Hawk, unbelievably, the street falls silent, except for the imperturbable white noise of the sparrows and starlings! Seeming to laugh it off like a practical joker, up he flies, flashing the white patches on his wings and tail as though taking an encore curtain call.
In 620 words, Millie and I have shuffled less than 20 feet along the sidewalk! Now, at last, we are, precisely, standing on the corner of Charles and Greenwich streets.
Looking up at the blue blue blue sky: it’s barely April, therefore, of course, a blizzard may bury us tomorrow, but today, the singing is sweet sweet sweet.
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