6:20 a.m. All through the newly bare branches of the black walnut tree beside the driveway, the stars glitter, too high for any squirrel.
Another thin fur of snow on the ground. The four aspens in the corner of the field shiver as the sunlight floods their yellow crowns.
The first snow of the season blows sideways through the thinning woods. All the roofs are white, white—sudden colonies of the sky.
The French lilac, unseasonably green; Japanese barberries flaunting too-numerous fruit; me with my steaming Ethiopian brew, rain in my face.
The oaks are finally coloring up, and rattle instead of rustling in the wind. But no rain of acorns this autumn, few footfalls of deer.
Blue sky morning. A goldfinch flock moves down the ridge on its squeaky wheel. I’m not, I realize, an optimist; I’m in love with optimism.
Rain. The only bright colors now are shades of orange; even the yellow chrysanthemums have turned brown, balled up like soggy caterpillars.
A small buck wanders past, the gray-brown gleam of a November woods already in his antlers. Snowbirds in the cherry tree, their soft calls.
Four chickadees glean frozen bugs from one skinny branch of the dead elm. Through newly porous trees, a 30-second glimpse of the rising sun.
Quiet except for the wail of an eastbound freight: Grazierville. Tyrone. Plummer’s Hollow. Then wind and darkness, coffee bitter in my cup.
Canada geese. What leaf is small and black and falls more slowly than a feather? A fire dances up in the trash burner, the brightest thing.
The coldest morning so far this season. Faint noises in the darkness must be leaves letting go, brushing against branches on their way down.
First sign of dawn: the moonlight on the leaves of the cherry tree begins to lose its luster. A distant military jet breaks the stillness.
First frost: a few small patches in the lowest parts of the yard. New holes in the wall of woods go from light to dark as clouds move in.