Fresh from drinking out of the cold stream, a chickadee swipes its bill rapidly against a twig, then goes to join the others in the birches.
The creek has shrunk to a black ribbon between white canyon walls. A cardinal fluttering up from a quick bath shakes loose a shower of snow.
Two degrees below freezing. Juncos bathe in the creek, darting into the currant bushes to groom. A house finch’s labyrinthine cadenza.
A faint dust of frost on the old goldenrod stalks along the creek. A crow chases a crow, yells breaking in the middle like a boy at puberty.
The ongoing warmth and rain have reduced the snow to scattered patches. Above the roar of the creek, a flock of goldfinches whistling.
Two squirrels circle warily beside the road. A third crosses the stream with a walnut between its teeth and seeing them, takes to the trees.
The first half-inch of snow. A mink appears along the creek, looping over and under the snow-laden grass like a dark needle and thread.
Mist thickens into drizzle; the phoebe falls silent. Under the deer-ravaged black currant bushes, slick black rocks where the stream begins.
Loud wingbeats as the shadow of a raven crosses the yard. A buck gingerly lowers his antlered head to the stream.
A bluejay imitates a titmouse, blaring the first note of its call, and drops down to drink from the sky-blue trickle in the ditch.
Sunny but still cold at 9:00. A fly walks slowly up a porch column. Water gurgles in the ditch. Three kinds of sparrows trade songs.
Back from migration, a Louisiana waterthrush sings above the trickle of a stream. Chickadees excavate a den hole in the dead cherry stump.
With less water, the stream is louder than it was yesterday. Three-inch cataracts splash into teacup-sized plunge pools.
Blowing snow plasters my boots, propped up on the railing. The creek is living in the past as usual, roaring with last night’s heavy rains.
Where a crevasse leads to an underground stream, a small hole has opened in the snowy yard, a dark ear throbbing with its own pulse.
After a warm night, the bare spots are bigger than the patches of white, except in the woods and in the sky. The creek sings higher notes.