4:50 a.m.: moonlight and dawn-light are at equilibrium. Then the whip-poor-will starts his insane chant. Other birds wake and chime in.

Clear and cold at dawn. Nothing but the sound of water gurgling in the spring until, at length, the first distant bird call: song sparrow.

Before dawn, a dull light that seems to come more from the snow than the sky. Way off in the forest, something takes a few steps and stops.

Overcast at dawn. The light seems to come not from the sky but from the slowly brightening orange and yellow leaves. Chirps of waking birds.

Dawn is the original thief in the night. Sleepless from a fever, I stare disbelieving at the sky’s stain of light as a screech owl trills.

A steady thrum of rain on the porch roof. The big red maple at the corner of the old corral is a cloud of salmon blossoms in the half light.

I poke my head out at first light. The moon has disappeared, and in its place the first towhee’s shrill and cheerful call. I go back to bed.