As the clouds thin, the flat-white ground acquires a gloss. Trees grow tenuous shadows, improbably long and skinny on this shortest of days.

Thick hoarfrost gives the sun rising through the trees a soft, glittery nimbus, and the aging snowpack has regained the sparkle of youth.

January has come early: the icy snowpack hard as a brick, a squirrel already in heat. A pursuing male pauses to groom his face and genitals.

Steady rain; the frost in the windows has turned to fog. Juncos move through the weeds like a human crowd, a mix of the bold and the timid.

The whisper of sleet falling on sleet. A snowbird bursts from under my chair where it must’ve been foraging and joins the rest of the flock.

I watch a squirrel diligently disinterring a walnut from the frozen earth and think, no. I identify with the crow, its harsh denunciations.