The song sparrow sings at first light—just once, like an alarm going off. Then nothing but the creek’s quiet conversation for 20 minutes.
A pair of mallards—probably the ones who nest every year in the field—are dabbling in the flooded creek, here, there, like connoisseurs.
12 hours of downpour and the stream’s a torrent, water clear from running off frozen ground. Small clouds rise like spirits from the snow.
Cloudless and cold. Listening to the underground stream gurgle through a hole in the yard, I think about my Chinese teacher from long ago.
Cold—the porch boards pop under my feet. A yearling doe walks by with her fur puffed out. But the stream’s gurgle remains unmuffled by ice.
The predicted icestorm has yet to start. Long minutes pass between the distant noise of engines. A raven croaks. The stream’s slow trickle.
A lowering sky, gravid with bad weather. Across the road, small birds crowd the stream, which makes a hollow gurgle under the icy crust.
Cold drizzle. The burble of a song sparrow. A flycatcher of indeterminate species flutters up from the foxtail millet beside the stream.
Pieces of walnut husk plop onto the driveway. A yellow leaf trapped by caterpillar silk flops like a fish a foot above the fishless stream.
A yellow mayfly struggles to cross the desert of my porch floor. I glance over at the streambank: yellow coneflowers, the first goldenrod.