Dull yellow stripes in the fog: the rising sun slipping between ridge-top trees; thin tulip poplar branches chewed bare by a porcupine.
Out of the dense fog, the too-fast-to-count taps of a woodpecker drumming for the music of it. He pauses to let a train whistle blow.
Where a crevasse leads to an underground stream, a small hole has opened in the snowy yard, a dark ear throbbing with its own pulse.
Blue shadows on the snow, and the sun so bright, sparkles gleam like lighthouse beacons even from within some of the thinner shadows.
This morning’s stillness is made of fresh snow, a distant jet, the quiet squeaks of a downy woodpecker and a dove’s whistling wings.
Crows begin scolding a red-tailed hawk on the far side of the field, and a squirrel digging in the yard hurtles into the bridal wreath bush.
New snow on every twig: a strange fur, this fine, dry stuff that forms so far below freezing. A vole rustles in the leaves beside the porch.
Clear and very cold. A single squirrel track crosses the yard, the footprints spaced far apart. The windward side of my face turns numb.
Bitter cold with a wind. The hillside seems unusually still, and after a while I realize it’s because there aren’t any squirrels out.
A slow snow. I love that brief period before the walk is completely buried: the random mottling, the impression of a great, anonymous crowd.
The sound of the wind up on the ridge mingles with the sound of trains in the valley until it’s almost impossible to tell them apart.
After a cold night, the temperature climbs to 40 by mid-morning and the snow loses its hard sparkle, flattens into a shining white pelt.
It’s very cold; the tall locust at the woods’ edge creaks with ice. A woodpecker taps on the topmost limb, silhouetted against pink clouds.
A line of tracks from under the porch to the creek and back look like the prints a very small man walking on his hands would make: raccoon.
Three inches of fresh snow, unmarred by a single human track. A scrabbling of claws: five squirrels on the trunk of a dead maple.
With the snowpack in retreat, those seedheads I’d gotten so used to seeing have disappeared back into the underlying chaos of dead weeds.