It’s cold. Leaves blow backwards in the wind. But squirrels must be coming back into heat: four of them spiral down a locust at top speed.
A box turtle plods across the yard, the markings on its shell as bright as fresh graffiti. A bluebird scratches behind his ear like a dog.
The bluebirds perch side by side on a branch, facing the dead cherry and their hidden, ravenous brood. A fat groundhog runs across the yard.
A half-hour after sunrise, the flickers arrive at the elm from different directions, copulate twice, and go back to work on the nest hole.
The hole in the dead elm is emitting puffs of dust: a flicker cleans house. Just beyond: scarlet tanager! Then the cardinal’s humdrum red.
The old crabapple next to the springhouse is in full bloom, a mass of shocking pink abuzz with insects. The sharp snap of a phoebe’s beak.
Above the almost-blooming lilac, a hummingbird is doing his courtship display, rocketing back and forth like the pendulum of a crazed clock.
Disconcerting to wake and find the woods twice as green, and new birds calling. I remember dreaming of a bicycle with spokes that sang.
A hollow oak dead for 30 years has finally collapsed, its fragments piled next to the stump like abandoned clothes. The first few raindrops.
The black currants are in full leaf, squat from their winter’s pruning by the deer. Down-hollow, a hen turkey yelping, a tom gobbling back.
The woods’ edge is a collage of pastels: just-opened leaves, catkins, maple keys. The old cherry stump chirps like a phone: baby bluebirds.
The groundhog that woke me with its bumping under the floor grazes serenely on wild onions. The first hummingbird zooms past the porch.
Buds have burst on the witch hazel, leaf-pairs clasped together as if in prayer. Dimly visible in the fog: a crowd of mayapple umbrellas.
A masked bird skulks through the lilac: the first common yellowthroat. Clouds gather, and the shadbush blossoms disappear into the sky.
A gnatcatcher is feeding above the stream, wings back-lit by the mid-morning sun as it twists and dives and pivots like a kung fu master.
Sky bluer than a bruise. A small salticid spider suns itself on my sweater. The first carpenter bee makes a slow inspection of the porch.