Trees rock and sway in the wind—still the quiet wind of winter, hissing only in the pines. The startled flute of a mourning dove’s wings.
Overcast and damp. The distant calls of a killdeer, returning from migration and spying the valley’s alluringly barren fields.
At first light, off in the fog, the weird, nasal calls of timberdoodles. One launches into the air with a whistling of wings.
Sound is out of the east: quarry trucks and grinders. In the gray woods, gray squirrels glide silently over the rain-slicked leaf duff.
Rain. In the marshy corner of the field, the duck-like calls of wood frogs, just up from their cryogenic sleep and already fully aroused.
Bright sun. From the valley, four gunshots in quick succession, followed by silence. A phoebe circles the house singing, as if sizing me up.
Sunrise tints the clouds orange. I squint through eyelids made bleary with pink-eye and lack of sleep. A downy woodpecker’s soft rattle.
Cloudy and warm. The first phoebe calls echo off the ridge like buzzy, two-note alarm clocks set for spring.
Strong sun; vociferous crows. It’s astonishing how many strands of spider web and caterpillar silk still shimmer in the trees.
Sunny and warm. A bluebird is warbling up by the barn and a song sparrow sings next to the springhouse.
Warm and clear. As the morning wears on, the traffic noise from over the ridge diminishes, leaving only the field sparrow’s ascending song.
In the warm sun at the woods’ edge, a groundhog gathers a mouthful of dried leaves and dives into her burrow. Far-off cries of tundra swans.
A yellow smear of sun on the white-bread sky. The distant knocks of a pileated woodpecker seeking admittance to frozen galleries of ants.
A half inch of snow—just enough to make the ground mirror the flat-white sky. A chickadee sings his two-note, minor-key song.