A dry ticking of junco alarm calls from all directions. A small hawk—Cooper’s or sharp-shinned—hurtles between the snow-plastered trees.
A bitter wind scours the hillside, stirring the quarter-inch of new snow into fast-moving phantoms, back-lit by the sun.
Off through the woods, the sun illuminates a stripe of white where snow still lies under the blueberry bushes on the powerline right-of-way.
Fog and steady rain. A drenched gray squirrel bounds across what’s left of the snow and clears the rushing stream with a flying leap.
The resident naturalist emerges from the woods, white slacks and dark blue coat a perfect camouflage against the new snow and blue shadows.
By late morning, the snow begins to soften. I notice there’s hardly a spot in the yard where some animal hasn’t left a footprint.
The ballyhooed snowstorm begins slowly: temperature above freezing, and just a few, insouciant flakes melting on contact with the bare road.
Most of the mountain is still sealed under five inches of icy snowpack, but the wind goes down the plowed road, turning over all the leaves.
Buffeted by wind, I close my eyes and focus on the sun’s warmth as the archipelago of drifted snow rearranges itself around my chair.
Snow-melt dripping off the roof forms a glistening bead curtain, blown sideways by the breeze, rattling on the tin roof over the oil tanks.
Branches skinned by rabbits, yellow as fresh bones, are starting to emerge from the snowpack. Light rain on my glasses turns my view to blear.
As the temperature climbs, I watch the shadows on the snow lose all their blue. The groundhog under my house gnaws on a beam.
Yesterday’s snow on every branch? A filigree of drips sparkling in the sun. Periodic crashes from the back of the house as icicles let go.
In the midst of a near white-out, a crow caws, and the chickadees keep twittering. I shake snow from a tissue to blow my nose.
Shutting my eyes alternately against the glare, I discover that the trees’ shadows are only blue in my right eye; they’re gray in my left.
The only spots of bare earth are in the plowed driveway. When I stand up, they erupt in wings, seeding the snowy yard with brown sparrows.