A sound I haven’t heard since last fall: a chipmunk’s territorial ticking. I see it zip across the rock-hard snow, tail pointing at 12 noon.
It’s cold. I lie in bed listening to a bluebird. When I emerge onto the porch an hour later, the first blue holes are opening in the clouds.
A new half-inch of snow; I have to brush off my chair before I sit. The sun behind snow clouds is a white blear, a bear, a blinding tooth.
Censored by wind and distance, a mourning dove’s call retains only the middle notes, like a bell tolling for the long, slow death of winter.
One avatar of spring, despite the snow cover: a turkey vulture comes hurtling over the house, wings tilting crazily in the high wind.
In the new snow, the splayed-hand tracks of an opossum cross the porch. A brown creeper busies itself on a tree at the wood’s edge.
A crow lands in a treetop and keeps flapping its wings, as if bathing in the falling snow. As I watch, a friend watches me, making a sketch.
Where rabbits take shelter under the lilac, several limbs have been de-barked near the ground, bone-yellow against the crust of snow.
During a lull in the snow, our neighbor drives past on the tractor. A deer leaps up from a patch of laurel, runs a few steps and stops.
That fast-typewriter sound of squirrels chasing each other around the bole of a big black locust. An hour later, they’re still at it.
Windy and cold, with a new skim of snow on the ground. Song sparrow and bluebird bubble over with what sounds today like forced cheer.
A mourning dove duet, and that rising note—the first field sparrow of spring! An hour later, snow is blowing sideways.
Lichens glow green and gray on rain-darkened bark. Only a few, small patches of snow still dot the hillside, like a lingering pox.
At first light, the wild cries of tundra swans pour down through the clouds. Then silence. The rumbling labor of an east-bound freight.
The fluting of geese: just two of them, flying far apart. Sunrise seeps like a dirty secret between cracks in the clouds.
Sunny and warm. A squirrel crossing the old corral with a disinterred walnut in its mouth follows the shadow of an oak tree into the woods.