This large oak tree is in my neighbor's yard. My neighbor is actually my cousin, my father's sister's daughter. I had a different vantage point for this particular tree when I was a child because I lived in that house. The tree was large even then and I remember finding cicadas on it. Now, the tree provides wonderful shade for my cousin's screened porch. The house was smaller then too as my cousin doubled it in size for her growing family. Originally, the house was built by my father's grandfather, then bought by my father's sister, then bought by my parents when I was about 4 and sold to my cousin in my teen's.
Last year I had a different vantage on the tree as it had grown a lot over the 25 plus years I was gone from Newfield and I was seeing it from ground level rather than the 4.5 feet above ground level of the breezeway as daily I walk back and forth from the ice house to the addition to nib into what the contractors are doing.
Last year at this time I wasn't seeing snow either. The weather was warmer but my heart was very sad. What I saw in the tree was a flock of large birds I thought were crows but turns out are red tail hawks that inhabit the skies over Newfield. In the summer and fall, the hawks have "afternoon tea" in the large oak trees around my house, squawking news as if they really are exchanging gossip. Last winter during this week they were keeping a vigil with me and would squawk as I left early for the hospital or came back from my turn for an overnight at my father's bedside.
The morning my son phoned at 6ish a.m. to say my father had finally slipped away peacefully, I went out to go to the hospital for the last time. I looked up and the birds were still sitting on the branches as if waiting for me to tell them of his death. I shrugged and quietly said, "He's gone." With only the sound of their wings flapping, the birds left too and ended their vigil as I ended mine.
So, although my vantage point is higher, I still see the birds keeping watch as if they were family waiting to welcome my father to a different plane of existence, and I find that notion comforting.