Peeled flesh of a black walnut leaks pus onto the sidewalk, more indelible than a blood stain. A woodpecker cackles from a bone-white snag.
Rust-colored leaves hiss and rustle under a slate-gray sky. A blue jay struggles to fly with its gullet full of nuts.
The whining scold-calls of squirrels, agitation of chipmunks, denunciation of a crow: soundtrack for a gray morning with one white hawk.
In the pouring rain, a six-point buck rips leaves off a lilac branch that the storm broke down, his antlers the same color as the break.
A yellow barberry bush at the edge of the woods trembles violently: two deer are stripping the fruit from its thorny branches.
Most of the edge and understory trees are bare now, and I can see under the oak canopy clear to the crest of the ridge and the sky beyond.
Two leaf-sized flames circle the trunk of a sunlit oak: pileated woodpeckers. Wings open like a fortuneteller’s deck of cards.
The low clouds are a patchwork of light and dark; the oaks change from brown to burgundy in the space of a minute. A bright curtain of rain.
In the middle of a still morning, a strange enthusiasm suddenly infects the birds, flitting, calling, gleaning, grooming, under a dull sky.
The crown of an oak that was green on Tuesday now glows orange in the sun. Every breeze shakes a fleet of helicopters out of the tulip tree.
A Carolina wren trills from the springhouse attic window, and a winter wren answers from under a pile of brush with ten seconds of song.
Bright lights appear on a storm-felled locust below my parents’ house—reflections from the second-storey windows. A hawk’s swift shadow.
Heavy frost. In the clear, still air, black birch leaves fall like rain. A pileated woodpecker dives cackling into the treetops.
At first light, I can’t get over the strangeness of a white ground below an opaque wall of woods. It’s magical, yes, but not in a good way.