Dawn comes with an inversion layer, traffic noise half-smothering the scattered notes of thrushes fresh from their night flights.
Clear at dawn. The extended gargle of a jake-braking truck. A crow flies silently overhead and returns a minute later with its call.
The first day of meteorological winter. It’s warm. I-99 is barely audible. The sound of teeth on walnut shell alternates with scold-calls.
A wren calls under the porch. It’s five degrees below freezing. An inversion layer brings the whine of tires over the ridge, red with sunrise.
5:15. A sliver of a moon with its dark bulk faintly illuminated by earthshine. Highway noise picks up. A towhee starts to tweet.
Cold. With the heavy inversion layer, a jay in the yard who sounds as if he’s practicing scales must compete with the whine of tires on I-99.
Under a low cloud ceiling, the thunder of trains and traffic from the valley. The black cat’s deadly silence trips a gray-squirrel alarm.
First light. Ghostly figures in the meadow shrink into common snakeroot. The distant gargle of a truck jake-breaking off the interstate.
Quiet except for the distant whine of traffic on I-99 and some small bird chirping behind the oil tanks. The sun comes out for five seconds.
A white-breasted nuthatch is barely audible over the whine of tires from the interstate. Two jet contrails form an X just above the sun.
The snow has retreated to the tops of logs. A squirrel’s scold-calls blend with the whine of traffic from over the ridge. A patter of rain.
The snow has gone slushy, turning the hollow from a soundproof room into an echo chamber. Over the traffic noise, a junco’s cadenza.
Between storms, the sound of traffic. Between the white ground and the white sky, fog, and the haute couture of snow coating every tree.
Out before dawn, I watch Venus rising through the trees, bright as a searchlight. The distant gargle of jake brakes from the interstate.