Cold and clear. My hat pulled down to block the sun, tree shadows on the snow help me gauge not only the time but the sky’s depth of blue.
A sharp-shinned hawk careens into a ditch beside a barberry bush where seven small birds have fled. It sits in the snow, eying them up.
The snowpack glitters in the sun. The soft chirps of foraging sparrows. A single jet trailing a short contrail in an otherwise empty sky.
Two amorous squirrels chase each other in odd fits and starts, bounding over the snow now pitted and softened by a night of rain.
Before dawn, a dull light that seems to come more from the snow than the sky. Way off in the forest, something takes a few steps and stops.
Another zero-degree morning. The wind hisses in the tops of the pines. A blue jay squeaks like a rusty hinge. The sun comes up.
Snow swirls past the porch like an old film reel dense with the blemishes of time. Juncos chitter. A downy woodpecker’s light, steady taps.
The thermometer hovers just above zero F. Drifted snow covers the porch. A lone squirrel leaps through the shadows of the trees.
Snowflakes blowing past must’ve come from a cloud that’s already scudded over the horizon. Faint chirps from the depths of the cedar tree.
At last, the ground is white again. The cardinal sheltering in the lilac bush flings the snow from her feathers with a flick of her wings.
Wind and sun and bitter cold. A faint trace of white on the ground, as if left over from last night’s full moon.
The woods are filled with fog and a roar of traffic from over the ridge. The north roof of the springhouse still wears a scruff of ice.
A pause in the sleet. It’s plenty cold enough for snow, but all we get is this glassy grit. A pileated woodpecker whinnies up on the ridge.
Juncos rustle quietly in the leaves beside the old springhouse. The sun spreads out behind thin clouds like a yolk broken in a pan.
The rasping cries of male squirrels trailing a female in estrus through the treetops. I can feel my breath freezing to my beard.
Cold and overcast. Snowflakes almost too light to fall wander like miniature spacecraft reconnoitering in advance of a full-scale invasion.