6:27 a.m. 30 degrees, wind WNW 7 mph. Sky: clouds like eskers, long and thick undulations embossed on blue, an aerial landscape; a transitory hint of peach in the south; an inch of snow last night, first since May 10 (Mother's Day), blows off branches and beech leaves. A musical woodland: clacking limbs, creaking trees, the moan of thin pines, rocking, their crowns combing the currents of a charming and wobbling world. Permanent streams: snow-covered rocks accent clear, cold flow; water carols with wood . . . an upbeat melody on Election Day. Wetlands: snow highlights the western wall of evergreens that lords over the marsh, faded reeds streaked and dusted white; dark islands of sweet gale pepper the bleached-out landscape. Three crows fly through a squall as silent as the snow. Pond: five hooded mergansers, two females and three juvenile males, huddle on the far end. One merganser dives and surfaces. One flushes, a short run across the water, and then airborne, wings churning—three of the four remaining ducks flee, complaining as they go, a series of guttural quacks. Alone on the pleated surface, fifth duck reconsiders options . . . Lots of deer tracks. No sign of mink (or otter). Three red-breasted nuthatches wander around a cherry trunk picking at the bark, up and down in defiance of gravity. Mumbling and squeaking, a subdued version of tin-horn tooting. A pensive communique, an expression of my mood, if *not* theirs. Election Day jitters. Chickadees hatch upbeat and stay that way. Goshawk flies over the marsh and pond, arrows through the flurries, over the valley's eastern rim, a solitary warrior in a cold world—a thrilling nanosecond—a mood enhancer, without an after taste. The sweetness of serendipity, the chance encounter that arises out of the blue, as if someone or something had made all the arrangements just for me. I got a phone call from a bank teller in the early oughts, who lived across the river in Canaan, New Hampshire. Her daughter had acquired a pair of insulated gloves with my son Casey's name and phone number written on the garment tag. The gloves, which had been lost six years before, were returned, and, though too small for Casey, were a perfect fit for his younger brother Jordan. Goshawks are like those gloves; they arrive in my life when I least expect them. One Saturday morning, fourteen years ago, I stood in the garage, stomping down the trash in the garbage pail, when I heard the distress cries of our barred rock hen. Tea Cozy ran toward me up the driveway, feather duster tail askew, screaming like a banshee. Right behind her, an adult female goshawk, blue-gray and single-minded, wings out straight, glided just above the ground. The hawk chased the chicken into the garage. Tea Cozy scrambled past me, wobbling from side to side in a cartoonish way as though she had run across a trampoline. Panicked, she dove into the coils of garden hose, which lay on the ground behind me. The goshawk followed ember eyes fixed on the hen. When she saw me, she banked off the rim of the pail, executing an aerial pirouette, and flew back out. I felt the air she had displaced. Heard her wingbeats. Looked into alien eyes, all in a matter of seconds. I've watched goshawks migrate above and below the North Lookout at Hawk Mountain, along Pennsylvania's Kittatinny Mountain. But this day, I stood in a trash can in the garage, not a slab of granite. And the goshawk was a foot away, not soaring above a wooded valley. The hawk flew into a nearby tree and stayed for a few minutes, then spiraled into the sunlight and disappeared over a ridge. For several minutes, the only things stirring in the front yard were the wind and my thoughts. The entire event was over in five seconds. Maybe less. Still, all these years later, I replay the scene, carefully studying each frame until the event has become a myth . . . the hen, the hawk, the garage, the garbage pail with me in it, the transparency of terror and surprise, the relentless pursuit. My racing heart. All bundled into the transparency of a moment, with implications as thick as thunder. This morning's goshawk didn't whip around me, didn't assault my senses . . . but it did for a transitory moment arrest my thoughts—an Election Day gift.