The woods and fields are brown now, but the large lilac is still a wall of yellowed green, like faded posters for a long-gone fair.
A blue-headed vireo on migration sings out of habit, perched near the top of the lilac. The free jazz of non-migrating geese—their ragged V.
The lilac trembles from without and within: rain hammers the leaves while birds jockey for shelter under them—towhee, cardinal, wren.
A scattering of white in my overgrown garden: soapwort, bindweed, fleabane, snakeroot. The sky brightens. A towhee calls from the lilac.
Cool and humid. Two male indigo buntings meet in the lilac bush and click at each other like angry blue Geiger counters.
His call sounds much farther away than the lilac, this black-throated blue warbler in his elegant plumage, hiding in the only leafy shade.
Dark and rainy. Peepers call from the marsh, and the half-leafed-out lilac seems to glow, achingly green against the brown woods.
One goldfinch in the lilac has already molted into his summer plumage: before the daffodils, spicebush or coltsfoot, the very first yellow.
Juncos rearrange themselves in the lilac—the scrabble of their feet. If nothing else, this winter has brought great stretches of silence.
A junco separated from its flock chirps noisily in the lilac. At the edge of the field, two crows do their frantic best to gin up a mob.
At the woods’ edge, a jumble of bone-white sticks: spicebush branches debarked by rabbits. A gray blur where a titmouse grooms in the lilac.
Freezing rain and sleet have turned the snow as rough as a lizard’s skin. A wren hops through the lilac, poking at the ground with his bill.
Sometime in the night, the rabbit ventured out for a quick snack on lilac bark. Its tracks are half buried by still more snow.
After another cold night, the lilac is carpeting its corner of the yard with the yellow-green curls of its suddenly devalued currency.
Windy and cold. A downy woodpecker works over the dead cherry, sounding like a fast hunt-and-peck typist. A towhee calls from the lilac.
The only singer is the wren in the lilac, cycling through his entire repertoire at breakneck speed. A gray caterpillar inches up my leg.