My first morning back since the New Year: clear, still, and bitter cold. The stream’s gurgle. The enthusiasm of small birds for the sunrise.
Solstice, and the ground is white with frost. The stream has subsided to the quietest of gurgles. Assorted chirps from sparrows and the inevitable wren.
It’s damp and warmish. A red-bellied woodpecker comes silently rocketing out of the woods. The creek remains mum about last night’s rain.
The streamside barberry is orange as a hunter’s cap. A crow silhouetted against the sunrise swipes its bill on the branch as if sharpening a knife.
Fog. A quiet gurgle from the stream, still digesting last night’s downpour. The only other song belongs to a vireo.
First light. Near where the stream gurgles under the road, a song sparrow sings a dream version of his usual song.
Rainy and cold. An indigo bunting and a phoebe clash briefly in the air above the stream and retire to neighboring walnut branches.
The stream is quieter than I would’ve thought after so much rain. The sun comes out, and the one ant tending to a peony bud moves her antennae.
A ray of sun strikes the lilac, setting its yellow buds aglow. The sound of water gurgling under my yard. The back-and-forth of nuthatches.
Sunny but cold. The woods-edge chipmunk scuttles back and forth. Tips of dead grasses hanging into the stream have new feet of ice.
An hour before sunrise, the bitter wind says winter but the creek says spring. The moon’s gone flat, but is still as bright as a false dawn.
Four more inches of dry powder. The stream has shrunk to the thinnest black ribbon between white cliffs—a body that refuses to be buried.
Seven cardinals—three pairs and a lone male—take turns drinking from the stream, then perch in the lilac’s bare branches, four feet apart.
The mockingbird in a bush beside the stream chases off other birds coming in to drink. A squirrel with only half a tail plods over the snow.