The forest is full of bird song that moves quickly from tree to tree. Chickadees, nuthatches, and others that are unfamiliar, but I can’t see any of them, not even as much as a shadow or the extra sway of a branch.
There is a gray streak in the undergrowth: a coyote about 30 feet ahead running perpendicular to me. He is just about to step onto the open trail when he looks in my direction and, without hesitation, wheels and sprints back down slope.
Anemones that have their tepals spread present a white face; those with tepals closed have flowers like eyes: a reddish purple patch surrounded by vitreous yellow. False Solomon's seal are out of the soil—some are like daggers, a pair of clasping cinnamon-colored bracts at the base as a handle and the stem with furled leaves as the blade. Other false Solomon's seals have elongated—the stems arching gently—and their leaves have expanded and twisted slightly, counter to the curve of stem, presenting upward the flat surface of the blade. These arrays of gently arcing stems have the elegance and clean arrangement of a Japanese garden. I wait until they are lit by direct sun that turns fast the shaded flat green hard sharp yellow.
Finally, when I’m on the ridge I begin to see the small birds. There’s a wren on a leafless branch of serviceberry. I don’t get a studied look, but it has the size and plump proportions of a Winter Wren. On a snag downslope, a Pygmy Nuthatch pokes at a woodpecker hole. Its head goes in, then out, and it looks around; then head in, out, and again it looks around. I watch this repeated several times. Its feet remain still; indeed, virtually all movement is in head and shoulders. It flies out to one of the few remaining branches and begins to call: ‘pip . . . pip . . . pip.’ A Clark’s Nutcracker flies to the top of a nearby ponderosa pine and calls hoarsely: ‘ack . . . ack . . . ack.’ And both: ‘ack . . . ack pip ack pip . . . pip ack.’ The Clark’s Nutcracker flies to the top of the snag and the nuthatch is off; then the nutcracker flies downslope—I can hear its ‘ack . . . ack . . . ack’ from another tree. Two Pygmy Nuthatches return to the snag. One begins working at a hole, probing its inner surface, while the other nuthatch watches—the first-probing nuthatch flies, and the watcher begins to work a different hole.