The starlings are restless. This evening, at dusk, they flocked to the Franklin Street parking lot – hundreds of them. Screeching in loud, knife-edged voices, they perched on electrical wires, lined the roof-rim of Diamondback’s Steakhouse, and fluttered in the trees. The trees looked like mythic creatures tossing in the wind and bristling with beaks, feathers, and gleaming eyes. Swooping over my head, the black forms of starlings were silhouetted against the sunset sky. Shoppers stared up at them, then hurried to their cars.

As I drove home, a storm rose in the East. The horizon blushed feverishly and purple clouds dwarfed the earth. Lightning illuminated the empty fields like flashes of a white-boned skeleton. A few drops of rain nailed the windshield and wind blustered my car left and right. It was a scene from Dante’s Inferno.

At home, I pushed through the shrieking wind toward the door, almost unable to open my eyes. Inside, we stood at the windows and watched the birdfeeder fly around the back yard and the hammock whip like the sail of a ship.