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.
Fourth-quarter moon in the branches of the black walnut, facing back toward the east and the first stain of dawn.
In the half-light of dawn, white snakeroot glowing in the meadow, the unending shhhhh of tree crickets, clatter of a squirrel venturing out.
First light. The half-moon has just cleared the trees. Behind the other bird calls, an almost continuous rattle from the chipping sparrows.
At first light, the sound of deer running through the woods: the crash of hooves, the swish of blossom-heavy branches of mountain laurel.
Dawn. As light grows, more and more shades of green and gold emerge from the forest shadows. Bell-like notes of the first wood thrush.
Dawn, and the peepers are still calling. The bridal-wreath bush glows brighter than the thin grin of a moon rising through the trees.
A small cloud has lodged among the trees at the woods’ edge: shadbush in bloom. Dawn leaks through a dozen rifts in the overcast sky.
At dawn, scattered drops—a passing shower. Spring peepers in the corner of the field call in spurts, like an engine running out of fuel.
Dawn. Three deer become two, become three again. The sound of squirrel teeth on black walnut shell—that harsh madman’s whisper.
First light. The silence is broken by a rustle in the leaves, followed a little later by the hollow sound of a creek stone being flipped.
A dusting of snow on every branch and twig. In the half-dark, kinglets bob in the top of a black birch—their high, thin calls.
A dark dawn. As light grows, the rain falls harder, thundering on the porch roof, drowning out all other sounds but a locomotive’s wail.
A rabbit wanders back and forth in the half-light of dawn—a nervous eater, hunched around its hunger. When it freezes, it almost disappears.