Hermits Rock

Go to content Go to navigation


This morning I was awakened before dawn by the sound of drips, only it wasn’t drips at all. It was too cold outside to be drips; it was also too frequent and too wild. Then I heard something that was not drips but growls. I grew excited. There are three narrow tracks of semi-wilderness that cut through Iowa City: the Iowa River, Ralston Creek, and the railroad. Two years ago along the railroad tracks a red-tailed fox appropriated a woodchuck burrow and birthed a litter of kits there. Late at night and early in the morning it was possible to see the kits play and rip apart rabbit corpses which the parents had killed. The kits were fearless, actually, so it was easy to get close to them; meanwhile, the parents kept their distance, but could be seen eyeing everything, warily. It’s early in the season for foxes to be so rambunctious, though they should’ve been born by now, but I did wonder, because for five years we’ve lived near the creek, and it wasn’t impossible that there might be something worth seeing. The half moon’s light was bright enough to see a distance, and meanwhile the sky was lightening from the sun, so I went outside and stood on the bridge on Friendship and, looking south toward the house, waited.

I didn’t have to wait very long. Soon I saw a shadow cross the creek. It was without doubt a raccoon. I stayed a bit longer and saw two more climb down a tree just outside our back door and waddle off into the darkness.

Then I heard what’s probably been going on for a week, but I’ve been too asleep to notice: the birds are singing. First it was a robin. It sounded like it was a block away, but it was unmistakable. Then, a cardinal; then another. I began walking to hear more. I heard a tufted titmouse. Then I heard mallards overhead, and I saw their shadows against the sky. To a chorus of territory claims, music someday to some sweet woman’s ears, I kept walking down to a nearby park, then came back home along the creek. By the time I came in and refilled our own bird feeders, the music had largely stopped.



They started singing here an hour or so before the sun comes up, just about two weeks ago.

I’m very excited to be in a place where there are birds. I just moved into a house in town a couple weeks ago, and now I have trees, and hence, birds.

the sounds of birds are one of the sacrifices i have had to make by living in a large city. nevertheless, yesterday morning the call of a lone blue jay warmed my heart and made me smile.