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.
The snow gives them away—a crunch of footsteps, the unambiguous shapes: five turkeys 150 feet away, going single-file through the laurel.
An hour before dawn, a deer-shaped shadow drifts out of the woods, apparitional against the snow, like the photographic negative of a ghost.
That drum so low it sounds as if it’s in your head? A ruffed grouse, beating the air with its wings like one hand clapping. Or so they say.
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.
The moon inches upward through the trees with the earth’s glowing shadow between its horns. Two train whistles converge, one high, one low.
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.
A three-point buck emerges from the woods, hooves crunching through the icy seep, the sky pink behind him and ahead, the blood-red hill.
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.