A flat white sky; no wind. A pair of ravens fly low over the house, their croaks echoing off the ridge. The wrens chitter back and forth.
Freezing rain and sleet have turned the snow as rough as a lizard’s skin. A wren hops through the lilac, poking at the ground with his bill.
A Carolina wren lands on the dead cherry stump and pumps his round body up and down, as if priming the inexhaustible pump of his song.
In the poor light, the quick movements of birds: those that chatter, those that flutter, those that scuttle like beetles, those that tap.
Whatever the male wren says, his mate always gives the same reply. He sings into the chimney like a child dropping pennies into a dry well.
Goldfinch, nuthatch, catbird, wren. The herb-garden chipmunk, cheeks bulging, pauses on top of the wall to groom its paws.
The only singer is the wren in the lilac, cycling through his entire repertoire at breakneck speed. A gray caterpillar inches up my leg.
Two Carolina wren fledglings in the cedar—small balls of fluff. A cerulean warbler flies in to peer at me, the cause of so much scolding.
Each bird I see has something in its beak: wren—a streamer of dried grass, chickadee—a seed, towhee—a bundle of stalks, grackle—a millipede.
In a soft light filtered by high clouds, trees framed by a fog of new leaves. After each burst of wren song, the goldfinch commentaries.
Yet again, the world is transformed by new snow clinging to every twig. The Carolina wren pokes his bill out from under the eaves to sing.
Nuthatch calls to nuthatch, wren to wren, but the generator roars to nobody. I keep seeing what could be a chipmunk out of the corner of my eye.
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.
This isn’t silence but a steady roar, ridgetop wind drowning out everything except for the wren, who translates that agitation into his own.
The sun rises above a mass of cloud looming like the lost, real mountain for which this is a foothill. A wren pops out from under the porch.
The mutter and whine of a distant two-stroke engine. Though the sun’s a dim smear, I can’t stop sneezing. A Carolina wren trills in alarm.