A halictid bee lands on the top railing and presses her dark abdomen to the warm wood. A honeybee on a lower rail cleans her antennae.

The temperature rises and with it the insects: those that buzz, those that drift on filmy wings. Behind the trees, the blue ache of sky.

Another cloudless day. The first blue-headed vireo sings softly in the woods. Overhead, angry croaks of a raven being dive-bombed by a crow.

Deep blue, cloudless sky. A mourning dove tries a variation on its usual dirge, the third and fourth notes higher, less hopeless-sounding.

Warm sun, cold wind. Three chickadees make noise in the lilac’s flaming green limbs. The shadow of a vulture glides slowly across the yard.

It’s damp but not raining. A steady drizzle of birdsong, among which I hear a distant phoebe for the first time since the cold snap hit.

Quiet Sunday morning. Up on the hill, a turkey gobbles once every 10 minutes. I glance up from my screen and the clear sky has turned white.

Sun and wind conspire against the fresh, wet snow clinging to every twig. A towhee calls in the midst of his labors to uncover the ground.

A half-inch of snow on the ground at sunrise. I look away, at the blue-gray sky. The bare trees shake and chafe, rattle and groan.

Warmer, and the daffodils have once more managed to stand up. There goes the meter-reader’s white pickup, topped by a flashing orange light.

Quiet except for a distant plane. A pair of squirrels race nose-to-tail through the yard, slowing only when they clamber through the lilac.

Sunny but cold. One of the tall locust trees in the yard has developed a loud creak. Two field sparrows are calling, but not to each other.

A few patches of snow linger in the woods, incongruous as the first flowering shadbush trees will seem. A scatter of raindrops on the roof.

An inch of new snow and a bitter wind. Daffodils droop like old balloons. A white-throated sparrow’s song pauses and resumes one octave up.

Sunny and cool. A small brown moth flies past, fluttering hard against the wind. From the interstate to the west, the whine of a speed bike.

At sunrise, the steady drumming of rain on the roof. Buds have burst on the lilac bush–a cloud of intense green against the brown woods.