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.