Gone for just two days, I come home to find half the lilac crushed by a fallen limb from the dead elm. A phoebe already uses it as a perch.
At 8:47, the sun puts in its first appearance. The cricket in my garden—the only weather forecast I follow—doesn’t miss a beat.
A loud blast from the quarry two miles away: the kind of literal “terrorist attack on American soil” nobody but the neighbors ever mentions.
A cloudless sky and air so clear, I can see gnats dancing 100 feet away. In the deep shade, borrowing shards of sun, the wings of a crow.
I hear something chewing in the tall weeds. Behind the lilac, a hummingbird bent on courtship opens the throttle on its small engine.
It’s cold—in the mid-50s. One catbird sits at the end of a dead limb overlooking the yard while her mate chases a rival, all in silence.
Wood thrush, cerulean warbler, red-eyed vireo, Baltimore oriole—song by song I tick them off as yellow petals fall from the tulip tree.
Dead bracken leaf: a sun-bleached carcass. A feral cat pads down the road undetected by squirrels, its sodden gray coat the color of gravel.
Back and forth over the yard still in shadow, a cicada killer steers the bright craft of her body, illuminated by the sun.
Sticky and warm. A clink of ice in my coffee startles up a deer, her tan coat passing in front of a cloud of blossoming mountain laurel.