Rain last night gave way to a misty morning. But life in the Shire stirs. Yesterday before the rain, a gray squirrel with a small branch of dried oak leaves in its mouth inched its way up a tree. The oak leaves scratched against the bark as he ascended. Today the squirrels skitter up and down the oak trees. A wren lights quickly on the rail and departs. Chickadees and juncos peck at seeds. The sky will become luminous blue later today and the branches will appear dark and bare against it. And as always, the camellias bloom brightly.