Christmas Bird Count day. I strain to hear something more exotic than crows and sparrows. A distant siren turns into a screech owl’s wail.
A small mound of dirt has appeared in front of the porch. The sky’s a mottled gray, and I try to guess which bright spot hides the sun.
Two pileated woodpeckers cackle back and forth. Patches of moss at the woods’ edge seem to glow in the dim light. The smell of rain.
White above, gray below—the reverse of the juncos foraging in the ditch among sedges, tear-thumb and asters, calling in small hard notes.
Sun through a skim of clouds. A nuthatch and a downy woodpecker trade anxious, nasal notes between the faint shadows of the trees.
Gurgle of the stream in my left ear, titmice in my right. The crunch of gravel as my dad’s Honda pulls up, silvery blue as new ice.
Clear and still. In the corner of what used to a lawn across from the springhouse, the limbs of a fallen tree shine white with frost.
Clear and cold. I shut my eyes against the sun, and the lace-work of tree branches reappears in white on the red canvas of my eyelids.
Clouds creased above the sun’s bleary eye. On the sage leaves, hair-thin frost crystals point in all directions—a disheveled pelt.
Sunny and cold. A nuthatch lands on the dead cherry and begins a close inspection of the limbs, dapper as an accountant in his gray suit.
Rain. I’m mesmerized by the driveway puddles, how rings of ripples form and overlap, each raindrop magnified at the point of termination.
With the leaves down I can see not only farther, but deeper: through a maze of lilac branches, I spot a rabbit when its dark eye blinks.
Crows and ravens squabble over deer gut-piles in the woods. Dirt flies at the woods’ edge as a groundhog enlarges the entrance to its den.
The sound of an altercation among the goldfinches—like a dozen jazz soloists playing at once. The only cloud in the sky finds the sun.