Winter Wood

The epic snow is over and the woods behind my house is back to normal. Beyond my kitchen window lies a narrow belt of old shade trees, much diminished in extent now, but for hundreds of years, before the tract houses went up, a natural pathway for deer and a natural habitat for smaller forest animals and birds. We still see the occasional doe and her two fawns in the Spring, and even now, as Winter closes in, we occasionally see the now grown fawns passing by, nibbling at the bark on the homes of the grey squirrels in their hollows and the year round homes of the finches who stay over rather than assay the long journey to warmer climes. In consequence, the wood is much quieter now that the ground is covered in snow than it is in Summer, but it is not entirely quiet. No, the squirrels come out to play every day, the finches talk to one another from earliest dawn to latest dusk, and at night we often hear an owl muttering something to himself, and an occasional scream as something small and reckless has ventured outside. The wood, like Nature, is never still.

The Summer denizens are mostly gone
The insect thrum has quieted and ceased
The sky still dark before the coming dawn
Awakes to birdcall, be it much decreased
The Winter sun shines dimly through the trees
Whose shadows fall haphazard on the snow
And silence reigns as temps drop to the freeze
And yet there’s life, all snug and warm below
The woods protects its fragile little ones
Who burrow ‘neath the all-embracing roots
Who last the storms and wait the Winter suns
And lay awake in fear of owlish hoots
Bird feeders line my neighbors’ backyard decks
Where squirrels fight off the birds for toothsome seeds
And through the Winter snows till Springtime becks
The tiny woods provides for all their needs
Until the Spring brings warmth and tender leaves
And insect thrum again is background sound
Where fawns still follow Mama as she weaves
Between the new-leaved trees on hallowed ground

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