Distant fire sirens break the silence. A deer hunter drives past in a bright red pickup. I convince myself I’m warm, sitting in the sun.
Overcast and cold. Every few minutes, another boom as our neighbors sight in their rifles. A wren and a nuthatch sound mildly irritated.
The western ridge shines golden against dark clouds for a few minutes before the sun goes in. A gunshot. The gurgling of the stream.
Fog moves back and forth over the snow as the rain thickens. Two hunters emerge, a girl and her grandfather—blaze-orange among the gray.
Oak leaves that turned brown just a few days ago already rattle instead of rustling. A hunter in gray camouflage emerges from the woods.
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.
Bright sun, cold wind. The blaze-orange vests of two hunters walking up the road: a father and his daughter who’s just shot her first deer.
Cloudy and cold. The quiet tapping of a downy woodpecker. A deer hunter appears, his bloody quarry sliding behind him on the fallen leaves.
Unseasonably warm. The sun catches on glass disinterred by frost heaving. From the valley, the cheerful pops of a semi-automatic rifle.
The morning after the end of deer season and an inch and a half of new snow covers the evidence—the gut piles, the trails of blood and hair.