i pulled up to our shitty little rental one day to find my daughter crouched by the curly willow tree in the front yard. she was kneeling by a baby bird that was barely covered with downy feathers. i could see the nest, high in the tree, too high for any of us to reach.

it had been on the ground all day so we picked it up and it spent the night on the kitchen counter sleeping against a warm water bottle and eating crushed up and moistened dog food. since i'm not a bird and don't have bird instincts to guide me, we googled things and followed directions. later the following day it died. we buried it in the nest my daughter had made for it.

the next morning there was another one on the ground and the following day, another. they all died in the end.

a few days later i pulled up to the shitty little rental after fishing and walked to the mail box. i heard a screech owl in the pines on the side of the house. years ago i learned to call them in. i sounded off and in seconds the tree above me had six small screech owls on staggered perches all purring and looking at me with confusion and interest. screech owls are better parents then the grackles.

it's high summer and the humidity had me thinking it was time to check on my shotguns and reapply a protective coat of oil. as i worked i looked out the window and saw my neighbor standing in his driveway, motionless and staring at the ground but also off into the distance somehow. he stood there a long time and then turned and went inside. maybe he was watching ants or maybe he has a lot on his mind. either way i can relate.

the water is low and clear. i took my son fishing for crappie and he stood in the shadow of a bridge and caught a pile, all just slightly too small to keep. i wanted to fry them in bacon grease for him. i spent the following day catching browns and sweating behind scratched up polarized lenses. when i was done i cut a few roadside tiger lilies to bring home for my girls.

this time last year i was recovering from cutting off most of my finger tip while making kindling for a fire. this time last year everything was up in the air. over three hundred days later and my finger has healed, but other than that, not much has changed.