Overnight, a dusting of snow layered atop the last dusting. Dawn’s light arrives a bit earlier each day. Today is the first day it was light enough to take a morning photograph. At this hour, the light is still edged with night’s darkness, but the battle is lost and morning’s light predominates.
I awake to cold weather and a cardinal singing to the clearing sky. It doesn’t take much to make a cardinal happy. This time of year, I rarely hear them sing on a cloudy day, but if the skies are clear, it doesn’t matter to them that it’s mid-January. The cardinal is the earliest bird to arrive at my feeders. The sky is barely light when I first hear their "chip" call as I sit at the kitchen table. It will be minutes later before the rest of the crew arrives—juncos, titmice, chickadees, perhaps the Carolina wren.
This morning I saw more residents of the mountain. Four deer—mom and the two kids, the fourth perhaps a young doe from the previous year. All are fat and fuzzy, almost long-haired in their winter coats. They graze on the small patch of grass they’ve uncovered at the bottom of my lane, calmly raising their heads but not moving as I drive past, almost close enough to reach out and scratch one’s ears.
These deer are well used to people. This morning, Big Dad and his snowcat are grooming the slope next to where they graze. Someone else, Tim perhaps, runs a snowmobile up another slope, and a third snowboy is tooling around in his ‘Gator to check the snowjets. Through it all the deer are calm, barely interested. The grass is more important.