Blue jays jeering in the steady rain. In January. One more thing that doesn’t feel right on a day when the world is out of joint.

An echoey call of a Carolina wren sounding like an old-fashioned telephone. The yellow spot in the clouds that marks the sun slides shut.

Two ravens hang high against the clouds without flapping a wing. Two more appear and attack, croaking, and all four soar off to the north.

Fog heightens the intrigue of January’s gray-squirrel soap opera: the slow-motion chases, the tree-top fights, the ruses to elude stalkers.

Heavy frost blurs the difference between snow-free meadow and woods, where a white fur lingers. The distant stutter of a Jake-braking truck.

A barred owl calls in the bright sun. Snow meltwater starts dripping onto the porch roof—a simple rhythm that grows increasingly complex.

It’s still. The birds seem restless. Then the snow starts: mixed with sleet at first, then in big clumps, giving the ground a mottled look.