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.
Dawn light turns everything briefly to gold: house, trees, the three deer that run a short way into the woods and stop, nostrils flaring.
Dawn gives a rust-red belly to the clouds. Over the stream, I’m astonished to hear the ethereal notes of a hermit thrush song.
At first light, some newly toppled tree creaks in the wind. What I’d taken for the dog statue on the far side of the yard swivels its ears.
Dawn. A migrant wood thrush flits from branch to branch along the edge of the woods. In the yard, a grown fawn nuzzles its mother’s neck.
Watching night turn to day—a thing that should be gradual, but instead proceeds by small leaps of realization: “It’s lighter now!” Rain.