Fine snow. Cleaning the dust off my glasses, everything blurs together: white sky, white ground, the noise of trains and sparrows.
Cloudy and cold. A cardinal perched in the lilac sings softly, barely opening his beak. The sound of a freight train laboring up the valley.
Under a low cloud ceiling, the thunder of trains and traffic from the valley. The black cat’s deadly silence trips a gray-squirrel alarm.
Deep blue sky. The distant rumble of a freight train heading west. The one remaining snowbank in the yard looks permanent as marble.
The sound of two trains approaching a crossing at the same time—their unplanned duet. I study the tracks in the yard, looking for groundhog.
A high-pitched train horn. The yammering of a red-bellied woodpecker. Almost imperceptibly, rain begins to tap on the snowpack’s icy lid.
Half a degree above freezing, but it’s enough to melt last night’s snow everywhere the weak sunlight reaches. Quiet but for the trains.
Now that I can see the quaking aspens, through bare walnut branches, I can hear them too: their constant whisper. Gauzy rain. A train horn.
Fog settles in, full of the labor of freight trains. Snow mounded up by the plow rots in the otherwise bare yard like a white whale carcass.
Had I not risen early I would’ve missed the sun, the rooster, two doves’ calls blending into something like the distant locomotive’s chord.