A gray squirrel in heat waits for her escort to chase off a rival suitor before resuming their game of follow-the-leader, now much more slowly, across the crusted snow.

Well below freezing, with a half-inch of snow on the ground and a wind that keeps turning the pages of my book. The sun appears for a second or two through a gray eyelid of cloud.

The western ridge is white with snow and more flakes spin down from thinning clouds, bellies turning orange against the blue. A crow kites overhead without flapping a wing.