A blue-headed vireo on migration sings out of habit, perched near the top of the lilac. The free jazz of non-migrating geese—their ragged V.
It’s cloudy, but the forest understorey glows with autumn color. A phoebe hawks flies from the spicebush, gurgling with satisfaction.
A high-speed chase through the yard—one Cooper’s hawk tailing another. Woodpecker pandemonium. High above, a jet leaves two blank lines.
A bold squirrel crosses the porch, going right under my chair. Below the top railing, an upside-down fly spins madly in a net of silk.
Fog. The splat of a walnut on the driveway, knocked loose by a foraging squirrel. A rabbit grazing the sodden grass freezes.
A Cooper’s hawk hurtles out of the woods and alights briefly in a yard tree. The assembly-line sound of territorial chipmunks never lets up.
As it warms up, the noise from the valley fades. Seven blue jays land in the tall locusts, looking anything but blue against the clear sky.
A cloudless sky. In the bright sunlight, the tattered remnants of webworm nests gleam like flags of surrender at the top of the walnut tree.
Wind shuffles the suddenly yellow leaves of elm and birch—their marked decks. A fly wanders the inside of a window pane on sticky feet.
Well after sunrise, a screech owl trilling like the god of tree crickets. I notice that the barberry above the creek is livid with fruit.
The clack of acorns hitting branches on their way to the ground. I’m beating myself up trying to kill a mosquito reconnoitering my torso.
A faint smell of sewage on the wind. A wren singing from atop the springhouse in the absence of a female supplies his own call-and-response.
A black ichneumon wasp climbs the white porch column, wings twitching like an ill-fitting suit. The lawnmower sound of a propeller plane.
The stiltgrass stems are beginning to redden. In the shadows of the trees, funnel spider webs still sag with their night’s haul of dew.
Another cold morning: just one bee for all this goldenrod. The neighbors’ rooster like some teenage band member practicing for a pep rally.
Droplets of fog, back-lit by the sun, stream upward into the blue like reverse rain. At the woods’ edge, a migrant phoebe clears its throat.