A dusting of snow on every branch and twig. In the half-dark, kinglets bob in the top of a black birch—their high, thin calls.

Sleet rattles on roof and garden, yard and road, weeds and woods, like seasoning from some indiscriminate eater of a bare-bones feast.

Cloudless at sunrise, and the yard a-glitter with frost. It’s dead silent, save for the stream’s gurgle and a raven croaking high overhead.