Cold rain drips in the pre-dawn darkness. The wail of a locomotive sounds frighteningly close and full of an obscure, mechanical longing.
A dark dawn. As light grows, the rain falls harder, thundering on the porch roof, drowning out all other sounds but a locomotive’s wail.
The walk is shiny with recent rain, and the west wind is damp and full of sounds from the valley: tires humming, the heavy thrum of a train.
Sunrise, and the sky is clear. From behind the red ridge, two train whistles blow at the same time in different keys. A car door slams.
Overcast. A train whistle coming from the wrong direction. The resident naturalist stops at the corner of the wall, gets out her hand lens.
The ground is mostly bare again, but the wind is salted with more fine flakes. Water thunders in every ditch. A freight train wails.
Intense cold, and a stillness so deep the trains can barely be heard. A cardinal flickers like a pilot light under the bridal wreath bush.
Before dawn, nothing but wind and trains. In the crown of a birch, Venus burns so fiercely, even the fast-moving clouds can’t extinguish it.
The wind rustles in the crown of one red oak; all the others are still. A train whistle. The light patches in the clouds fade to blue.
An hour before dawn, a high thin cloud drifts northeast to the rumble of a freight train. When the half-moon intersects, a rainbow disc.
Thick fog at daybreak, as if the bright moon of 2am had spread a kind of mildew over the mountain. Train whistle. A nuthatch’s nasal call.
No trains are running. The black-and-white warbler’s quiet wheeze competes only with the distant vuvuzelas of rubber on road.
Wind and water, scattered chirps of winter finches, the sound of two freight trains going through the gap: exactly the music I needed.
Dark clouds. Steady drum of meltwater. A locomotive with the low note of its whistle stuck open like a bagpipe drone moans through the gap.