Sky gray as the skin of a corpse. An internal combustion engine’s profane orison. Some small bird hammering at the seed of a sunflower.
Distant fire sirens break the silence. A deer hunter drives past in a bright red pickup. I convince myself I’m warm, sitting in the sun.
Out before dawn, I watch Venus rising through the trees, bright as a searchlight. The distant gargle of jake brakes from the interstate.
Cold and damp. The distant rumble of the heating oil truck’s diesel engine coming up the hollow. Voices of crows. Voices of children.
The laboring motor in the septic service truck, pumping out our tanks—I try to hear anything else. The Carolina wren. An electric drill.
I can hear a titmouse tapping at a sunflower seed 100 feet away. A truck drives up the unplowed road—the squeak of the snow under its tires.
Cold and overcast. The wind eddies around the house, bringing first a few snowflakes, then the distant mechanical gargle of an engine brake.
Warm sun and an inversion layer bringing traffic noise from over the ridge. Cardinals and titmice compete with the whine of truck tires.
Silence has descended along with the snow—6 inches so far—save for the rumble of snowplows. A squirrel walks on the dry underside of a limb.
Heavy frost blurs the difference between snow-free meadow and woods, where a white fur lingers. The distant stutter of a Jake-braking truck.