chipmunks

The walnut tree next to the road is stripping in the wind, its leaves flying off in great yellow gusts. The steady ticking of a chipmunk.

Another cloudless morning. Chipmunks chase each other through a bar of sunlight on the forest floor. The distant, metallic calls of a raven.

Sunrise stains the treetops. The woods are full of anxious-sounding calls: chipmunks, jays, nuthatches, an endlessly scolding squirrel…

Cloudy and cool. Cricket trills and ticks are joined by chipmunk tocks. A tulip tree leaf sails in wide circles with its stem for a rudder.

The light between showers. A groundhog plows through the stiltgrass in the yard. Later, two chipmunks touch noses at the end of the porch.

A chipmunk scurries through the garden with a wad of dried leaves between her teeth and disappears beneath a flowerless clump of peonies.

A flash of blue as one indigo bunting chases another out of the yard. From within the rock wall, a chipmunk’s hollow tock.

Cloudy and cold. The weeds below the porch tremble where a chipmunk forages for seeds. The dog wanders into the garden to graze on grass.

Momentary things: A chipmunk pressing the rain from its fur. The swaying of a branch from which a grackle has just taken flight.

A cloudless sky. Chipmunks and squirrels run back and forth across the melting snow. A gurgling chorus from all the springs and ditches.

A few degrees above freezing. Just inside the woods’ edge, three chipmunks in full mating frenzy race back and forth across the snow.

It’s cold and gray, but a chipmunk has emerged from hibernation and sits on a log protruding above the snow without moving for half an hour.

An inversion layer brings freight train and traffic noise to mix with rustling leaves, crow scold-calls, a chipmunk’s metronome. My music.

A Cooper’s hawk hurtles out of the woods and alights briefly in a yard tree. The assembly-line sound of territorial chipmunks never lets up.