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.

Overcast and breezy. The daffodils are beginning to droop like old balloons. A black-throated green warbler sings once and moves on.

Bright sun, cold shadows. Down in the hollow, two downy woodpeckers are engaged in a head-banging competition. The neighbor’s rooster crows.

A ruffed grouse drums and a field sparrow sings with almost the same accelerating rhythm. The hollow gurgle of the stream under the yard.

It’s just above freezing, bright sun alternating with clouds. The usual bird calls seem to have an almost interrogatory tone.

Scattered snowflakes. On the back slope, a gray tabby cat is stalking voles, head swiveling to follow each ripple of wind in the grass.

Birdsong amid the rain. My brother’s ailing dog joins me on the porch, lying down with a sigh on the squirrel’s wet footprints.

A red-tailed hawk struggles to stay aloft against the wind. A spit of rain. Then the clouds disappear as quickly as yesterday’s hail stones.

A dull-gray morning full of the rattling of woodpeckers. A bluebird lands on a branch in the yard like an emissary from the weekend.

Two chickadees inspect the old cherry stump for potential nest holes, tapping, exploring its hollow core. Up on the ridge, a turkey gobbles.

Flies and butterflies, gnats and gnatcatchers, blue-headed vireo, paper wasp. The towhee in the lilac bush starts his song with a stutter.

A brown thrasher’s loud improvisations. For a moment I think some new type of tree is in bloom, but it’s only the rain beading every twig.

Two wild turkeys cross the road into the woods, their dark feathers shining in the sun as they disappear into the equally lustrous laurel.