tufted titmouse

A few degrees above freezing. Three titmice drop out of the sunlit oaks to investigate the dead elm, en route to a quick bath in the stream.

A pileated woodpecker lands on the dead elm with a rattle of wings, the elm swaying. Below in the lilac a titmouse hammers away at an acorn.

A new bloom of gnats—I saw them swarming by the back door—and the yard is full of fall warblers, foraging with the chickadees and titmice.

Gray things: a squirrel and a titmouse sharing a gray limb. A catbird in the road swallowing gray stones. Large parts of the sky.

A titmouse scolds something hidden among blood-red barberries. The dead stiltgrass twitches with a second life like hair on a corpse.

Another perfect morning. A hummingbird lifts off from the bergamot, tailed closely by a moth. The quiet, anxious calls of a titmouse.