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.
The rain-soaked forest shines in the sun. Two chipmunks are calling, and at first I mistake their metronomes for dripping water.
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.
A cold morning. Two chipmunks calling 100 yards apart fall in and out of sync. Thin clouds block the sun before it ever reaches the porch.
Goldfinch, nuthatch, catbird, wren. The herb-garden chipmunk, cheeks bulging, pauses on top of the wall to groom its paws.
Another cold, clear morning. A chipmunk finds a patch of sun from which to tick, like a self-winding alarm clock set for fall.
The hollow tock of a chipmunk calling from within the rock wall. A chickadee perched atop the stump opens his wings wide to shake off rain.
A Juvenal’s duskywing butterfly comes dancing out of the woods like a small brown leaf. Zigzag ripple in the grass where a chipmunk forages.
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.
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.
A chipmunk hangs by its hind feet from the thorny branch of a barberry bush, picking berries and stuffing them into its bulging cheeks.
As sunlight reaches the forest floor, the chipmunks emerge and begin to chip, their metronomes mingling—a dry waterfall of sound.