November 2008

A slate-gray sky. From the birdfeeder up at my parents’ house, the sound of squabbling crowds, pushy as bargain shoppers ahead of the sleet.

Enough snow now to make the ground a blank page for the calligraphy of weeds and the meandering tracks of birds, the prints of their wings.

Two inches of fresh snow, and already the black cat is taking a shit in the middle of the driveway. Small pink clouds clutter up the sky.

Mid-morning, and many of the feeder birds are sitting quietly in the treetops, silhouetted against the whitening sky. Bright smudge of sun.

Snowflakes in the air: the small, light variety that fall at ten degrees below freezing. They drift sideways, glistening in the sun.

Another half-inch of snow on the ground, on the porch, on the horizontal limbs at the forest edge: pale arms outstreched in the darkness.

Cold, gray, and windy, with a new half-inch of snow. The only flicker of warmth is a chickadee’s call—the pilot light in a stone-cold oven.

Clear sky, and the meadow white with frost: an almost-winter morning. Juncos forage at the edge of the woods, wings flashing in the sun.

Fresh snow, but not enough to turn the hillside white. Like an old man with bushy brows, the earth peeks out from under every arched leaf.