The leaves on the sapling tulip tree are already big enough to blow backwards. A tanager’s plucked-string call. It begins to sleet.
The thermometer’s big arrow points straight at 0°C. It was too windy for frost, but fallen red maple leaves cradle white grains of ice.
Sun shining through rain: to the small birds in the treetops, the porch must be ringed in a rainbow. Then it turns to sleet.
A pause in the sleet. It’s plenty cold enough for snow, but all we get is this glassy grit. A pileated woodpecker whinnies up on the ridge.
A whispering in the dried grass: not wind but sleet. A hawk materializes like a magician’s handkerchief and flies off through the trees.
Freezing rain on a bed of sleet: like listening to thousands of pins dropping. A nuthatch ascends a tree head-first like a brown creeper.
Freezing rain and sleet have turned the snow as rough as a lizard’s skin. A wren hops through the lilac, poking at the ground with his bill.
Steady rain. The corners of the yard still glisten dully with the pellet ice that fell in the night.
At mid-morning, before the snow starts its quiet infiltration, before the hard knuckles of sleet, the distant hysteria of a mob of crows.
A rattle of sleet gives way to the hush of snow, then the tapping of freezing rain, then back to snow. A squirrel never stops its scolding.