Hoarfrost on every grass blade, branch and twig, as if the world has suddenly aged overnight. A white-throated sparrow’s tremulous song.
Clumps of snow still dot the crowns of oaks—small clouds, a rain of angelic hats. Flaming orange and red leaves rattle in the wind.
A blue jay lands on a snow-laden branch and the branch breaks. An early snowstorm is like a too-hard eraser that tears holes in the page.
The first frost fades under a white sky. I’m noticing how at a distance even a sound like the banging of a hammer becomes a sort of music.
Deer circle the wild pear tree behind the house, rising high on their hind legs to reach the fruit. A crow jeers from a nearby walnut limb.
The walk is shiny with recent rain, and the west wind is damp and full of sounds from the valley: tires humming, the heavy thrum of a train.
Cool air, bright sun and silence, save for the rustling of cattails and the creaking of one dead oak cradled in the limbs of its neighbor.
The woods are more open by the day. Three croaks from overhead: raven. The electric company’s line crew arrives, red flags on their truck.
Two pileated woodpeckers forage in the birches, scarlet crests glowing in the sun, the sky below them in the windshield of a parked truck.
In the cold drizzle, a kinglet hovers over the faded lilac leaves, hawking prey too small to see. Then it, too, vanishes into the gloom.
Now that the birch closest to the porch is bare, I notice a large hornets’ nest: a ghost town, a wino’s abandoned bottle in a paper sack.
Warmer outside than in: I emerge like Lazarus from the tomb, shaking worms of sleep from my eyes. A groundhog hauls ass into the tall weeds.
Dawn: the soft wickering of a wood thrush. Three hours later: chipmunks’ incessant hammers. A tiny blue wasp explores the sunlit railing.
The spicy smell of moldering leaves. On the barn roof, the shadow of a blue jay lands on the shadow of a limb.