Cool and quiet. A ray of sun pierces the forest canopy and falls on a clump of goldenrod in the meadow that’s just beginning to turn gold.

A stag prances through the gray goldenrod and into the dim, dripping woods with his six bright spears held high—a parade of one.

Where the sun shines through elms and birches, almost half the leaves are already yellow. In the meadow, the goldenrod is at its height.

The wind from a distant storm sends yellowed walnut leaves spinning to the ground. In the meadow, the first goldenrod blossoms are opening.

Bright sun, and meltwater drips from the roof despite the cold. I think about microclimates—pits in the snow around dark goldenrod stalks.

A field sparrow forages in the seed heads of goldenrod inches from the porch, eye a black stone set in a white ring, keeping me in sight.