Mom

A squirrel on an oak limb freezes in alarm at the figure passing underneath, that blaze-orange cap a color no longer found in the trees.

The snowstorm slows down just after daybreak, as if drawing its breath. I hear my mother on her back porch yelling at the squirrels.

The excited yelling of my young niece, out tracking animals in the snow with her grandmother. A Carolina wren scolds from the lilac bush.

The resident naturalist emerges from the woods, white slacks and dark blue coat a perfect camouflage against the new snow and blue shadows.

A flat-gray sky. Train whistles and quarry noise travel up the hollow, accompanying two overlapped umbrellas, one black, one white.

My mother emerges from the weeds beside the springhouse with a handful of mint. Behind her at the woods’ edge, a red-tailed hawk takes wing.

Overcast. A train whistle coming from the wrong direction. The resident naturalist stops at the corner of the wall, gets out her hand lens.