I go down into the ravine in mid-spring for the windless cool. The thistle hasn't taken over then, the grass is still unripe, the nesting blackbirds haven't formed vigilante groups yet, although one or two hang on the rock, baleful eyes and murderous smiles. "Staying long?" they rasp. "Passing through. Passing through," I say. And they nod, disbelieving.

Northern Flicker

One of the things human beings are very bad at — a list that includes having a thought without posting it on Facebook — is transcribing bird calls. There are just certain things a particular species isn't equipped to do. You wouldn't ask a blue whale to cook an omelette. Sure, they can sift flour, but they can't crack eggs. Those great flippers don't have the dexterity. And whales are smart enough to know that — which is why, even with massive unemployment in the whale world, none of them ever apply for jobs as short-order cooks.