Titmice and chickadees inspect the lilac, which lost half its leaves overnight. Déjà vu: they were in my dreams, these birds. These spirits.
Something approaches at a slow shuffle, gray in the gray light: porcupine. He threads the thistle patch, squeezes under the porch.
If woodpeckers are tapping, the sun must be up. The clouds part just long enough to reveal a giant X of jet trails blazing gold.
Dripdripdrip — rain on the roof. Off in the darkness, the explosive snorting of a deer: coyote? Bear? Human? Something with the wrong odor.
Under a low cloud cover, the mountain still white with snow, dawn grows from the ground up. My growling stomach is the loudest thing.
Puffs of white smoke where squirrels forage in snow-covered birches. One squirrel falls twenty feet to the ground and lands with a soft FLUMP.
An hour before dawn, I sit motionless, watching Venus climb slowly through the leaves of an oak, dazzling first my right eye, then my left.
A strong gust of wind brings a red oak leaf into my lap. I watch high-flying leaves cross paths with a flock of waxwings.
Wind and rain. On the ornamental cherry tree beside the porch, fat drops dangle from the bare spots between yellow-orange leaves.
White sky, white noise from the highway over the ridge. The goldfinches wake all at once, a querulous babble of squeaky wheels.
Rain drumming on the roof. A single bar of white-throated sparrow song, and then the factory whistle dividing the dawn from the day.
A pair of ravens fly low over the house, invisible in the fog. I’m lost in thought about trickster gods, and right on cue: Arrk! Arrk! Arrk!
My left thumb itches, but nothing wickeder than a nuthatch materializes. The sun comes up.
White on green: the lilac bush heavy with yesterday’s snow. Chickadees bicker, working out a pecking order that will last until spring.