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.
In the wake of a slow-moving cloud, sunlight spreads through the woods trunk by trunk, branch by branch like a contagion none can escape.
Just one degree above freezing, but most of last night’s wet snow has fallen from the trees, rococo filigree replaced by stark modernism.
One squirrel leads another through the woods, pausing repeatedly to let it catch up. Only when a third joins in does it turn into a chase.