A pause in the rain. Under a dripping cedar limb, two filmy-winged winter insects dance side by side, pogoing like airborne punks.
I haven’t seen a porcupine lately, but who else could be debarking the tulip tree’s lower branches? They glow white against the rainy woods.
After days of a heavy inversion layer, it’s quiet at last. The snow’s gone. From a hole in the yard I can hear water trickling underground.
A white-breasted nuthatch is barely audible over the whine of tires from the interstate. Two jet contrails form an X just above the sun.
A thick fur of hoarfrost on everything near the stream. A mile or two away, someone is firing off dozens of rounds on a semi-automatic.
Clouds slowly thin. Facing southeast, I watch tree branches turn to black latticework against the sun as it sharpens from smear to blaze.
Bright sun with a bit of warmth, but the trees’ long shadows give shelter to the snow. A squirrel leaps headlong through the treetops.
Soft sun. Birds flit through the weeds beside the springhouse. A white-throated sparrow sings just the first, wavery note of his song.
Sunny and still. The thermometer needle inches up toward 0°C. A sudden thump: a squirrel on an oak limb dislodging a large piece of ice.
-12°C with a wind. A raven high overhead is having, by the sound of it, a splendid time. I pull a second hood over my hat.
The icy trees have been dusted with snow, which still sticks in the wind when they make a sound like the dry grinding of snails’ teeth.
Freezing rain. A squirrel sits motionless on an icy branch as if deep in thought. From up on the ridge, a crack followed by a crash.
Nasal calls: nuthatch, crow. Snow dry enough not to clump, but wet enough to cling to every twig and give each dried beebalm head a cap.
The alarm call of a Carolina wren spreads to other wrens, other birds, a growing agitation that for a second flutters even in my chest.