White sky. The sun is a bright spot like the eye of a blind cave salamander. Doves flutter up from the cattails on piccolo wings.

A bitter wind. Through three layers of head covering I can hear the trees squeaking and groaning and a pair of jays exchanging urgent cries.

Deep cold. Two chickadees invade the porch, fluttering noisily above my head. A downy woodpecker excavates breakfast from a resonant tree.

Cold and quiet but for the muffled cries of squirrels mating or fighting in the springhouse attic. A dozen snowflakes wander into the yard.

Steady rain. Two drenched birders walk up the road, towels draped over their binoculars, and tell me they’d managed to flush a barred owl.