Overcast. The first milky-white peony is open, facing the road where a sparrow struggles to swallow a large green caterpillar.
A field sparrow fresh from bathing and a hummingbird fresh from fighting sit two feet apart on a walnut branch, shaking their feathers.
Faint sunlight. A gnatcatcher’s nasal notes against the background noise of field sparrows. My mother calls to come look at a dead mole.
Holes in the clouds by late morning. Field sparrows trill almost non-stop. My mother says she can smell my coffee way up in the woods.
Overcast. A field sparrow’s ascending note. In the dead grass below the stone wall, an otherwise motionless garter snake tastes the air.
A kestrel lands on a limb at the woods’ edge, looks around and flies off, skimming the ground. The field sparrow barely pauses his song.
Distant gunshots from the shooting range in the valley. The impression of rising excitement in a field sparrow’s song.
Dark clouds in the west lit up by the sun—backdrop for the first turkey vultures of spring, 14 of them, circling. A field sparrow sings.
An ashen sky, gravid with snow. The field sparrow’s back: that song that sounds like rising excitement (or alarm, depending on one’s mood).
Dismal and cold, like a November day—except for the daffodils, the field sparrow’s rising trill, the red maple blossoms about to burst.