Cold weather has finally returned. Small birds are bathing in the stream despite the iron wind, shaking themselves dry in a dogwood bush.

Two song sparrows in a singing contest under dark clouds. I try to hear urgency and seriousness in their bubbly notes as the sky opens up.

‪The usual bird calls—cardinal, titmouse, red-bellied woodpecker—but something seems off. It’s the clouds, coming from the wrong direction.‬

‪So many chipmunks are racing about at the woods’ edge that after watching them for a while, I begin to feel itchy. A crow clears its throat.‬

‪Warm and still. Out of the corner of my eye, a pileated woodpecker slipping behind a tree. Distant howl of a train car’s misaligned wheels.‬

‪Weak sunlight. Dead leaves are all a-rustle, rummaged through by squirrels, voles, chipmunks, juncos. The distant cry of a maybe killdeer.‬

Cloudless and still. Sun gleams on the laurel under the trees. I hear the crunch of footsteps on the gravel road from a hundred yards away.