I go walking after a quick and wild autumn thunderstorm, and the world is fresh. It has been scrubbed clean -- each leaf and berry polished and new. The tops of the storm clouds are white and puffy, away in the distance, but the air seems still to carry a charge.
A ball of starlings comes at me, panic in every feather.
The Cooper's hawk follows like a missile.
Crows scatter into the air, too, lifting off from the power lines. Fourteen, fifteen, I stop counting and just watch the raggedy tips of their wings, glossy in the bright clear light. The sky aches it is so blue.
I walk on and the colors of the trees defy language. Sugar maples glow pink-yellow-red as if they were their own light source.
I come eye to eye with a downy woodpecker on a branch. We stare at each other for a while. I don't know what goes through his brain, but for that brief moment I am blissfully without thought.
He turns his back to show me a pure checkerboard of black and white, and the church bell rings out the hour.