Flakes in the wind—not from the clouds, but the ground. A large, dried oak leaf curled like a boat floats down and lands on the snow.
The soft clatter of oak leaves on their way to the ground. Dull thumps as a pileated woodpecker excavates a hole, crest like a flaming axe.
The first small holes through to the ridge-top sky have appeared in the green wall opposite my porch. The sound of falling acorns.
Two pairs of pileated woodpeckers breakfast 100 feet apart, one on adjoining oaks and the other side by side on the trunk of a locust.
A branch breaks at the top of an oak, clatters through the too-loose grips of lower limbs and lands in the new snow’s too-shallow grave.
Cold at sunrise. A squirrel gathers clumps of dry leaves from the last oak to still have them and stuffs them into the top of a hollow snag.
Cold and gray—November weather at last. Oak leaves twirl and somersault past the porch, accompanied by a few motes of snow.
While oak leaves spiral into the yard, six vultures tilt and pivot high above, searching for an updraft, then turn and drift on south.
Clumps of snow still dot the crowns of oaks—small clouds, a rain of angelic hats. Flaming orange and red leaves rattle in the wind.
Cool air, bright sun and silence, save for the rustling of cattails and the creaking of one dead oak cradled in the limbs of its neighbor.
A racket of jays in the crown of an oak, calling and making excited rattling sounds in their throats, as if cheering on the ripening acorns.
A squirrel descends an oak at high speed while rolicking robin music plays in the background. Closeup on the maple buds round as stoplights.
An urgent, nasal call: the Cooper’s hawks are back. The female glides into a tall pine while the male appears and disappears among the oaks.
In the still air, a small disk of ash falls spinning like a demonic snowflake. The sun smolders on the ridgetop between columns of oaks.
An impossible butterfly dances past the porch: a shred of oak leaf. The trees creak and groan in the bitter-cold wind.
Cold, and an iron wind. Two murders of crows rage at each other from the crowns of adjacent oaks, the sunrise slippery on their napes.