Through my thick hat I can hear wind hissing in the pines, the moan of an amorous squirrel, a tree popping from the cold—loud as a gunshot.
Take one polar vortex. Add westerly winds, seasoned lightly with snow. Stir in some birds and trees. Heat with a star 93 million miles away.
Another snowfall. The small hole in the yard that leads to an underground stream remains open, like a breathing hole for seals in sea ice.
The fast scrabbling of claws on black locust bark: another squirrel’s in heat. Dead grass blades along the stream are rococo with hoarfrost.
Trees at the woods’ edge with their branches out to catch all the light they can—or in this case, snow. A pileated woodpecker’s flaming cap.
From under the house, rabbit tracks encircling a half-eaten raspberry cane, raccoon tracks going straight to the stream—muddy on the return.
The wind raises snow from the ground like a necromancer. Basking in the sun’s feeble heat, I watch the six-spoked wheels settle on my coat.
Yesterday it was below freezing and rained; now it’s above freezing and snow is coming down: dilettantish at first, then in a mad dance.
A high-pitched train horn. The yammering of a red-bellied woodpecker. Almost imperceptibly, rain begins to tap on the snowpack’s icy lid.
Silent and glittery. Squirrels bound over the icy crust, passing between the trees’ long, skinny shadows like loom shuttles.
The wind has died; it’s zero. Through my balaclava and hood I can hear the excited chirps of juncos on the plowed road foraging for grit.
Storm past, the temperature is plunging, just as they predicted. The new icicles aren’t even done dripping. They sway in the bitter wind.
An almost unearthly calm, punctuated as ever by birds: woodpeckers, counter-singing wrens, a flock of juncos drinking from the dark stream.
Between storms, the sound of traffic. Between the white ground and the white sky, fog, and the haute couture of snow coating every tree.