Rain begins at mid-morning: a cold drizzle. The sparrows in the lilac stop singing, but vultures still drift back and forth along the ridge.
A cool, cloudless morning. A raven flies over the house headed south, his loud cronks shattering the Sunday silence. Today will be warm.
Trees sway and gyrate under a blue-gray sky. In a lull between gusts, a lost leaf flutters down out of the clouds. The phoebe calls.
After all-night rain, the sound of rushing water in all directions. I can barely hear the birds. A distant, dull clanking from the quarry.
A pileated woodpecker lands on the dead elm. She drums just below the old flicker den hole, then peers into it, moving her head all about.
A pair of phoebes fly in and out of the old nest under the springhouse eaves. Done foraging, a groundhog barrels full-tilt toward its den.
Two nuthatches meet on a branch for a split-second copulation, then fly off to separate tree trunks to resume foraging, tails to the sky.
On a bright morning, I can almost forget how many of the laurel bushes shining in the sun are sick and dying. A titmouse’s monotonous call.
A dry ticking of junco alarm calls from all directions. A small hawk—Cooper’s or sharp-shinned—hurtles between the snow-plastered trees.
A rodent face appears in the mouth of the old flicker hole in the elm snag. It watches me for a while before fading back into the darkness.
The grass darkened by rain in the wee hours. Two crows gad about like a human couple united by their harsh disapproval of the same things.
A second male phoebe has returned. Their warring warbles echo off the hillside at sunrise, interspersed with a cowbird’s liquid notes.
A bitter wind scours the hillside, stirring the quarter-inch of new snow into fast-moving phantoms, back-lit by the sun.
A solid gray sky marred only by the sun’s blurred searchlight. It’s cold. From all directions, the anxious-sounding calls of woodpeckers.
Off through the woods, the sun illuminates a stripe of white where snow still lies under the blueberry bushes on the powerline right-of-way.
On and on, a squirrel scolds some unseen predator. I scan the slope for fox, mink, feral cat—anything to break the monotony of pale brown.