A pileated woodpecker trepanning an oak to extract its harmful inhabitants the ants. Distant shots from deer hunters at a similar task.

High winds. The chairs huddle together at the end of the porch. Oak trees rattle; the pines roar. A sparrow flies into the wind, chittering.

The neighbor’s leaf blower, that insect whine. I worry about the oaks that still have leaves—snow is coming, the kind that breaks limbs.

Hoarfrost costumes the yard, sparkling in the sun for a few minutes of glory. Oaks that looked brown under clouds glow orange and red again.

A bright blue morning. The wail of sirens somewhere to the east—until the wind shifts and I hear nothing but the whispering of oaks.