The hemlock forest was cool and dim as afternoon faded to evening. I hiked quickly, but with eyes and ears open, hoping to catch a whiff of spring. A flutter of movement caught my eye. Pausing, then creeping forward to see around a trunk, I was rewarded by a glimpse of the plump brown body and rusty tail of a hermit thrush. Silently, it made a series of short flights into the balsam thicket and vanished.
I smiled at the discovery that this early-spring migrator had returned. And then I listened even more carefully, hoping to hear the bird’s delicate, flute-like song filter through the trees as I have on so many gray-lit walks. “Whyyyy don’t you come to me, to me?” sings the lovelorn bird as the air begins to shimmer with magic. “Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last for more than a few moments,” wrote Mary Oliver.