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.
Sleet rattles on the roof like a fast typist. Two deer in the springhouse meadow: when they stop moving, they vanish into the brown weeds.
Fog at daybreak, and a thin coat of sleet like coarse sand. From up in the woods, the sudden squealing of a squirrel fighting off a suitor.
Sleet rattles on roof and garden, yard and road, weeds and woods, like seasoning from some indiscriminate eater of a bare-bones feast.
The sleet whose ticking woke me at 6:00 has stopped. Five degrees below freezing. I stick out my arm and hear raindrops hitting my sleeve.
Just as I take my seat the sleet starts. Pellets the size of fish eyes lodge in the folds of my coat. The brown ground turns a glassy white.
An hour before dawn, whose footsteps are those on the hard crust of snow, first tiptoeing, then running about? Mice, I think. No: sleet.
Riddle me this: no snow fell here, but the ground is white. The trees with their thin coats of ice creak and clatter in the darkness.