Cloudy and cold. From over at the neighbors’, the low rumbling of a large machine and the excited shrieks of children eddy on the wind.
A squirrel climbs the elm with a mouthful of dried leaves, goes into the old flicker hole and turns to face out, ready for other contenders.
Under the deer-ravaged rosebush in the middle of the yard, a round patch of blood some three inches wide, turned pink by a dusting of snow.
Early morning sounds like spring, with cardinals, titmice and song sparrows tuning up. A rabbit stands on its hind legs to reach lilac buds.
The snow that began falling at 6:00 has softened to slush; the skunk prints that crossed the garden are gone. Fog fills the woods.
Chickadees are geniuses at staying busy. I watch the usual flock of five investigate the lilac as if they’d never seen it in their lives.
The sound of a single-propeller plane—a rare thing nowadays—draws my eye to a hawk circling a thermal high over the ridge’s glossy snowpack.
In the cold wind, a gray fish fights against the lilac twig that snagged it: the collapsed remains of a caterpillar tent fallen from a tree.
The Carolina wren doesn’t rise till 9:23. He hops out from under the house, flutters up to the porch and flies into the lilac to sing.
A rattle of sleet gives way to the hush of snow, then the tapping of freezing rain, then back to snow. A squirrel never stops its scolding.
Three thin continents of drifted snow on the porch floor shape-shift every time the wind picks up, losing a headland, gaining a peninsula.
Bitter cold and overcast, but still the porch roof rattles with a staccato rhythm of drips from the second-floor roof’s two-inch icicles.
Snow falling in large, wet clusters: I watch the woods whiten. Small clouds of powder in a multiflora rosebush as snowbirds dart in and out.
Cold and clear. In the woods to the east, a loud dialogue of knocks: two pileated woodpeckers seeking admittance to dormant cities of ants.
Sun shining through a flurry. Two chickadees weave madly through a barberry bush, the pursued bird trying to enlist the thorns on its side.
A squirrel’s scolding echoes off the hillside, with the same, semi-automatic and hysterical qualities of any rant against the powerful.