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.

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 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!