After hard rain in the early hours, the sky is a patchwork of light and dark. The wail of a freight train is faintly audible above the wind.

In the soft light of a half-hidden sun, the old red maple beside the road is ruddy with blossoms. The sound of teeth chiselling a walnut.

Clear and cold. The continual, waxy chatter of goldfinches, their plumage now a patchwork of winter’s dull green and summer’s crayon yellow.

One wood frog still calls in the marshy corner of the field, late for the orgy. Under the porch railing, the first, tiny spiders of spring.

The sun shines through gauzy clouds, giving the morning a faded-photo effect. A squirrel drinks from the stream. A cowbird’s liquid note.

Sunrise, and seven species of birds are calling—but not the phoebe, who flies in and out of the old nest under the springhouse eaves.

Before sunrise, I’m fascinated by the yard’s labyrinth of dead grass, that tangled thatch. A robin warbles for a while and falls silent.