Crystalline snow, grit hard, sings as it strikes the paper dry leaves of ironwood trees. Beyond the woods, a metallic river of sound flows along County Road Six and, high overhead, an airplane mumbles. No other sounds. I sit on a sawn oak stump in the hush of winter Big Woods and listen. It’s cold. Very cold, but I am unwilling to leave these ancient trees, fastened in winter. Snow bastes rough trunks on their north-facing sides, and the leaves of ironwoods glow chestnut-red against so much whiteness. All is still. To my left, I see a where a buck scraped the velvet from the tines of his antlers and tore the skin of a young sapling maple. A red squirrel high in a linden, chatters like an old- fashioned sewing machine—then falls silent. I sit still as a tree. Snow granules gather in my lap; toes ache with brittle cold. I glance toward my boots and note snow, humped in a line, where a deer mouse tunneled an owl-proof road beneath concealing snow. Somewhere behind me, a pileated woodpecker bells an abrupt alarm, and a barred owl alights on a slender branch twenty feet away. It rides the dipping twig and sees me. For a moment, pond-brown eyes lock on mine. Flustered, the owl flings upwards and lands beside the red squirrel. The squirrel breaks into staccato curses, scrambles down the linden trunk, looses its footing and plummets into deep snow. The owl spreads silent wings and threads an escape into the woodland as the squirrel, still cursing, bolts into a hollow log. From the direction the owl has flown, crows erupt in a cacophony of aggression. I rise, having caused enough mayhem for one day and, without thinking, trample the mouse tunnel. I retrace my snow-softened footsteps. As I walk, the squirrel quietens, the noise of the crows subsides. Behind me, the woods slip into silence, except for the singing snow.