The excited yelling of my young niece, out tracking animals in the snow with her grandmother. A Carolina wren scolds from the lilac bush.
At last, the ground is white again. The cardinal sheltering in the lilac bush flings the snow from her feathers with a flick of her wings.
A steady shimmer of rain. Wet tree trunks glow gray-green with lichen, and the lilac looks festive with its orange strings of dead bindweed.
A foraging chickadee gives the lilac twigs a thorough grooming. I shut my eyes against the sun and see its white prints all over my retina.
A skim of snow on the springhouse roof glows faintly blue under the blue sky. The sun turns the old, limp lilac leaves into stained glass.
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.