Another day, another snow: fat flakes coming down just thickly enough to be mesmerizing, turning the ground blank again. A gun goes off.
A scurf of fresh snow. Crows getting told off by a raven. Bright patches in the sky—which holds the sun?
An inch of wet snow clinging to everything: that clean smell in the half-dark of dawn. When my furnace cycles off, a great silence descends.
Overcast, so it’s hard to tell exactly when moonlight gives way to dawn. A hunter’s flashlight climbs the ridge and is lost among the trees.
Snow on the ground and in the air. When the wind eddies around to the east, a great flock of shriveled leaves lifts off from the lilac.
No frost for the first time in weeks. Sunrise hidden by clouds, signaled by a slight brightening and a lively exchange between three nuthatches.
An hour before sunrise, a great-horned owl calls in the distance—just audible over the sounds of traffic. My breath rises like a rope trick.
Clear and cold. Two nuthatches trade riffs at the edge of the woods. I watch the rising sun crest the ridge one blazing filament at a time.
Tundra swans just below the clouds heading east over the house, their ethereal flutes. Three minutes later, a south-bound flock of geese.
Sunrise, and a contrail becomes a golden sword pointing east. The waxy chatter of goldfinches in the treetops. The silence of the factories.
A thin wash of cloud at sunrise, and the yard gray with frost. A raven flies low over the hollow giving two-syllable croaks.
Flakes in the air. The lilac leaves hold on, faded and stiff. And with my brown clothes and dark red hat, I suddenly realize I match the oaks.
The streamside barberry is orange as a hunter’s cap. A crow silhouetted against the sunrise swipes its bill on the branch as if sharpening a knife.
Rising late to a sky as gray as my head. Quarry trucks are beeping. The Carolina wren has switched to a minor key.