Now that I can see the quaking aspens, through bare walnut branches, I can hear them too: their constant whisper. Gauzy rain. A train horn.
Somewhere nearby, the bugling of geese. A red-breasted nuthatch goes up and down each branch of a small walnut. Mosquito: a blur on my nose.
Off to the northeast, a thin band of clear sky for the dawn to tint. A squirrel drops a walnut from the treetops. The catbird starts to mew.
Shirt-sleeve weather. A squirrel unearths a walnut from the yard in that casual way squirrels have of pretending it’s doing something else.
Steady sleet. A squirrel bores into the frozen earth to retrieve a black walnut, then schleps the battered, lumpy thing into the treetops.
In the stillness, the rasp of squirrel teeth. Then the hollow thonk, thonk of a dropped walnut hitting the limbs of an oak on its way down.
A great silence punctuated only by an occasional gun shot. A squirrel digs up a black walnut from beside the porch and bounds off with it.
High winds after a soaking rain. The fallen walnuts in the driveway have all turned black, soggy hulls sagging like bodies in a bog.
Now that the walnut trees are bare I can see the aspens down along the boggy end of the meadow—leaves so quick to quake, so slow to let go.
In a lull between showers, a squirrel inches out along a slick black walnut twig. I decide the sound a falling walnut makes is SPLUD.