Snow illuminates nature, every movement broadcast. Birds are suddenly unmistakeable: red, brown, and gray against powder white. The butterfly footprints of squirrels—back feet overtaking front feet—link every tree in the neighborhood. There isn’t a structure they don’t go up and come back down.
Outside of my window, a brown squirrel comes bounding across the roof next door. He slips and slides down to the gutter, clasping it with his white paws as his body flops over the edge. I watch like a nervous father pumping the brakes in the passenger seat. Brake! Brake! Snow flurries to the ground where the squirrel would have landed. Pulling himself up, he slinks along the gutter to an awning and then bounds again, out of view.
Not an hour later, the squirrel appears on the roof again; I catch a glimpse of his stark brown body against the snow. He slinks a different way this time, taking the high route along the peak of the roof. I breathe a little easier that he has learned. He makes a turn and slips down the shingles, sweeping them clean of snow. Recovering, he leaps to the awning and is gone, not stopping for fear of the edge.