White sky and white ground meet in a blur of fog. Above the drumming of rain on the roof, a white-throated sparrow’s minor-key song.
Rainy and cold. White-throated sparrows call in different keys, each more plaintive than the last. The birches are fluttery with kinglets.
Slow trickle of water in the ditch. Weak sun. My mom stops by to talk about logging and politics, and how the old field is full of sparrows.
Soft sun. Birds flit through the weeds beside the springhouse. A white-throated sparrow sings just the first, wavery note of his song.
Juncos’ soft whistles. A white-throated sparrow’s melancholy song. The joyful shrieks of our neighbors’ four-year-old grandchildren.
The croak of a raven skimming the treetops. A white-throated sparrow fresh from bathing in the stream grooms itself in the weak sunshine.
A singing contest between white-throated sparrows. Newly fallen oak leaves skitter back and forth on the snow under the trees.
In my left ear, the sound of traffic going through the gap. In my right, white-throated sparrow, nuthatch, raven, jay. It looks like rain.
Where the stream fans out beside the springhouse, birds hop down the snowbanks and into the water to bathe: sparrows, juncos, Carolina wren.
Cold wind. A white-throated sparrow sings its plaintive, quavering song and falls silent. I sit in the reek of dogshit from my boot.