Dear friends, I am migrating north and 3000 miles east for the winter. I will be back at the beginning of March, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. Thanks for reading, and remember, if you miss your Morning Porch fix, you can always stop by and check out the previous years’ entries in the sidebar. Have a great winter.

Cold rain. A song sparrow sings sotto voce from beside the stream. In the front garden, one last, late blossom glimmers on the witch hazel.

This isn’t how Hollywood would’ve scripted the deer season opener: flat light with no hint of shadow. Shots don’t ring out—they merely thud.

Blank white sky. The woods are quiet except for an occasional chickadee. From over at the neighbors’, the labored putting of an old engine.

From the east, the pop-pop-pop of a rifle being sighted in for deer season. From the west, the roar of Black Friday traffic. Hunters, all.

Cloud cover thin as muslin sheet; the woods are anything but gloomy. A small brown moth flutters purposefully past. The neighbor’s chainsaw.

Crystal clear and quiet, except for the methodical hammer-blows of a pileated woodpecker performing surgery on a tree afflicted with ants.

A thin spot in the clouds passing over the sun gives the tulip tree at the woods’ edge an aureole for its suddenly dramatic, upraised limbs.

Overcast and cold with snow in the air and scattered notes from a traveling ensemble of flautists: a large V of tundra swans arrowing south.

Just as I come out, a doe and her grown fawn emerge from the lilac. We stand and stare at each other. I notice one of her ears has a crimp.

Branches clack like arrhythmic castanets in the high wind. A few sunlit snowflakes hurtle past, refugees from who knows what distant cloud.

Dark and rainy. A loud tapping from the far side of the cherry snag next to the porch where a downy woodpecker must’ve spent the night.

Bright and breezy. A small black wasp lands on the porch floor, its antennae held together except at the tips, like a forked tongue.

To the east, an agitated crow. Over by the cattails, an anxious wren. And behind me under the house, a groundhog bumps and scrapes.