Rain and fog. With the goldenrod going gray, the yellow has moved from the meadow to the woods’ edge: spicebush, walnut, birch, elm, tulip tree.
The big dead elm has collapsed into the stream, its rain-slick bole broken in two places. A drenched phoebe hawks insects in the grass.
A half moon high overhead, fading as the fog rises off the meadow. A nuthatch lands on the dead elm’s smooth trunk and turns all about.
Cold rain and fog. A squirrel disappears into the old flicker den hole in the dead elm, that smooth, ruined column at the edge of the yard.
The predicted snow is a no-show. A squirrel races up the dead elm, pokes its head in the den hole, and hurries back down. What has it lost?
Clear and dead still. A flicker lands on the elm snag and pokes into the old den hole. Her wings, when she flies, glow yellow in the sun.
A rattle of falling acorns where jays forage. Two pileated woodpeckers in succession land on the dead elm, red crests blazing in the sun.
A pileated woodpecker lands on the dead elm with a rattle of wings, the elm swaying. Below in the lilac a titmouse hammers away at an acorn.
The yellow is moving up from the goldenrod to the birches, tulip trees and elms. A red-bellied woodpecker’s shrill calls end in a trill.
A squirrel enters the cavity in the dead elm and rests its chin on the lip of the hole, watching silently as juncos swirl through the yard.
I wake from a dream of a pub that served nothing but wheat beer to endless rain on yellow leaves: birch and elm, walnut and tulip tree.
Where the sun shines through elms and birches, almost half the leaves are already yellow. In the meadow, the goldenrod is at its height.
Ground fog in the corner of the meadow glowing faintly pink in the sunrise. A flicker flies out of the old den in the dead elm tree.
A half-hour after sunrise, the flickers arrive at the elm from different directions, copulate twice, and go back to work on the nest hole.