gray squirrel

After a night of high winds, the lilac is more threadbare than ever, and in the crowns of the oaks, only the odd clot of a drey remains.

A squirrel enters the cavity in the dead elm and rests its chin on the lip of the hole, watching silently as juncos swirl through the yard.

With the leaves half down, I can see inside the forest again: squirrels leaping from branch to branch, a ridgetop flock, the rising sun.

Every morning, the carpet of sunlight on the forest floor grows a little larger. The steady rasp of squirrel teeth on black walnut shells.

A squirrel explores the woods’ edge, running along the underside of a locust limb, nosing the ground, going to the very top of a dead tree.

Sunrise stains the treetops. The woods are full of anxious-sounding calls: chipmunks, jays, nuthatches, an endlessly scolding squirrel…

Trembling in the top of an oak where a squirrel gathers green acorns. Blurry shadows from a sun shining through cloud. A cuckoo’s soft call.

A squirrel stymied in crossing the porch by my unexpected presence approaches warily, watching me the way a farmer watches the weather.

It’s cold. Leaves blow backwards in the wind. But squirrels must be coming back into heat: four of them spiral down a locust at top speed.

Birdsong amid the rain. My brother’s ailing dog joins me on the porch, lying down with a sigh on the squirrel’s wet footprints.

Sunny and cold. The snow lingers like a guilty conscience. A squirrel climbs the dead elm, enters the old nest hole and sits peering out.

A cloudless sky. Chipmunks and squirrels run back and forth across the melting snow. A gurgling chorus from all the springs and ditches.

Yesterday’s melting has turned old footprints from pits into little hills. New tracks are muddy brown, fading out by the middle of the yard.