Warm, overcast and damp. The last bit of bark on the dead elm tree glows pale green on the outer half of a limb, a four-fingered glove.
A dusting of snow on every branch and twig. In the half-dark, kinglets bob in the top of a black birch—their high, thin calls.
The male cardinal lands on a top branch of the lilac and sits nearly motionless for ten minutes, an odd red triangle against the woods.
Snow blowing sideways. As the wind changes direction, two dead trees fallen onto the living take turns complaining: first eeee, then ahhh.
Sleet rattles on roof and garden, yard and road, weeds and woods, like seasoning from some indiscriminate eater of a bare-bones feast.
At the bend of the road where the trail enters the woods, a flock of juncos chittering and picking small stones for their crops.
Cloudless at sunrise, and the yard a-glitter with frost. It’s dead silent, save for the stream’s gurgle and a raven croaking high overhead.
Snow like a coating of mildew on fallen leaves. Sunrise turns the western ridge blood-red, punctuated by the yellow ribs of dead trees.
The Carolina wrens are all worked up about something. One of them lands on the porch railing and harrangues me, bobbing like an angry toy.
Another gray morning. A groundhog on walkabout freezes every six feet, eyes quick and brown as the shadow of a fox. Finches’ squeaky calls.
A dark dawn. As light grows, the rain falls harder, thundering on the porch roof, drowning out all other sounds but a locomotive’s wail.
Soggy woods under a gray sky. In the multiflora rose bush, a junco’s tail keeps flashing white as it struggles for a perch among the thorns.
Cold with a heavy inversion layer. While traffic roars over the ridge to the west, the sun clears the eastern ridge, a silent howl of light.
A pair of Carolina wrens—one in the lilac, the other in the dead cherry—flit from branch to branch, tasting the new-fallen snow.