gray squirrel

Sunrise turns the western ridge red. A squirrel falls out of a walnut tree and lands with a thump in weeds white with the first frost.

Overcast and still. The oaks are dropping their acorns, filling the forest with random thumps and bangs. A gray squirrel’s raspy whine.

Sun shimmers in the treetops while rain still drips from the roof. A squirrel climbs a walnut tree carrying a walnut, as if in some proverb.

Clear and cold. A squirrel trots into the woods with the green globe of a walnut clenched in its teeth. The oleaginous burble of a wren.

Too dark to identify the small birds darting through the forest canopy. A walnut dislodged by a squirrel thumps hard against the ground.

A turkey vulture glides low over the trees, circles once to gain altitude, setting off a jay and a squirrel, and soars off down the ridge.

The sky darkens, squirrels and jays scold an unseen threat, a pileated woodpecker makes a histrionic exit. Then nothing. The sky brightens.