Lift your eyes up to the trees not long after first light; warblers are falling out of the sky. Yesterday morning dozens zipped through and around the tall butternut and sassafras trees in our yard hunting insects. The southern migration has been underway for weeks, and if the weather is right and their energy needs a boost, they will drop en-masse to feed and rest.
In Maine, we saw another ‘drop’ in the cherry trees and pines next to the rock ledges. With hearts beating like soft automatic drums, they did not perch but moved constantly, hunger and the urge to be off driving them.
Years ago my wife and I rented a broken-down cabin on Moosehead Lake in mid-August. The cabin lurched toward the lake only yards away, but we had quiet and water warm enough to swim every day. Then another gift showed itself when hundreds of warblers descended into the trees around us. Forget Oz and other wonderlands — within an enchanted moment we were immersed in gold and green birds the size of small hands who circled us, weaving and climbing.
Yesterday, late afternoon, one more surprise — standing on a mowed path in an overgrown field, first a motion, and a shimmer of a leaf on a sapling and then a hooded warbler slipped out, a foot away, as surprised as me at its appearance; it paused and then disappeared into the brush. For a week the sky has resembled the inside of a gray pot, leaden and somber, but these dashing yellows tilt the heart toward something lovely.