March 12th, 2006



The moon a dusty thumbprint in the sky, we follow the blue around the village. Snow is melting all around, but hanging on, hugging the ground. The edges are sun-eaten, lacey, dripping. There are ravens and rooks everywhere, as if this were a battlefield or an old Norse myth. Hugin and Munin, thought and memory. I look sideways at their sharp stabbity beaks and surprisingly small heads for such large birds. They perch atop trees, fenceposts, power lines. Another bird, silent and white, rises above a house as we walk. At first I think it is a seagull because of the color, then a hawk because of the size. It glides without flapping, sweeps in a circle and suddenly we realize it's an owl. I have never seen an owl on the wing, and am flabbergasted to find one here in the late afternoon, over our neighborhood.

These are the wild animals I can sight on any given day in Flyinge: magpies, crows, jackdaws, ravens, rooks and pheasants. A pair of swans, a wedge of geese, a muster of storks stalking spindle-legged behind a tractor. Hedgehogs, often flattened. Once in a while, a hare. Once in a while, a rabbit. Far off in the fields bounds the occasional roe deer. The rest of the small creatures are so infrequent as to be invisible, the large ones the stuff of myth and encyclopedias.

I don't know if it's because I am so acutely aware of the lack of furry creatures in my home that the absence of them seems so glaring everywhere. I miss chipmunks and squirrels, that ubiquitious chattering company. I want to pet something and my children won't hold still.

All around us, the sunshine steams off the snowmelt. The background chorus of songbirds swells into a crescendo: spring is on the way, they sing. I stop and inspect branches, admiring the new jewelry each hedge and tree and bush is sporting: tiny green gems, pearly buds. Martin laments the end of winter; no more snowballs, no more sleds. "Spring springity spring," I warble, and we harmonize on endings and beginnings.