0 is a rippling pond, ringed by golden sand gone pale in the moonlight. Its reflection holds the moon and the stars, gleaming in a midnight-blue sky...yet its murky depths hold secrets, jealously kept, caught in mud and entwined in weeds.
1 is the tail of a fiery orange cat, raised high in silent greeting to the universe. Soft moonlight sets her aglow, and when her lithe figure moves she becomes a solitary flame, flickering in the darkness. Drops of dew sparkle in her fur as she pads toward the pond. She sits, curling her tail over her front paws, and gazes across the water lapping against the shore, her wide green eyes holding untold wisdom.
2 are the pair of wolves that hunt through the forest encircling the pond. Their quarry stumbles ahead on uncertain legs, large ears flattened and sweet brown eyes wide with terror. One misstep, and the larger of the two wolves brings down the young deer with a vicious bite of sharp white teeth. His companion joins him in a chilling howl that echoes through the night sky, shaking the stars that watch from above as the prey's lifeblood drains into the earth.
3 are the speckled blue eggs that lie in a nest, lovingly built with bits of fluff and feathers. The mother robin puffs her red breast proudly as she watches over the life she has created. Her mate alights on the branch next to her and snuggles close, admiring the cozy home they made together in the evergreen tree overlooking the pond.
4 is spelled out by three fallen logs in a burnt-out campfire--where there was a crackling fire the day before is now only gray ashes that stir listlessly in the slight breeze. But hidden underneath are hot cinders that glow orange with inner fire, yet to be extinguished.
5 are the dragonflies that flit and flutter at the edge of the water. Their brilliant iridescence catches the moonlight in a flurry of blues and greens and purples, dancing to a silent rhythm before settling onto a patch of water hyacinths. Their gentle landings spread tiny ripples that distort the stars before vanishing into the darkness of the water.
6 is the shape of a sleeping garter snake, curled loosely atop an oak tree stump. An ant crawls across its body, carrying a cracker crumb to sustain its queen. The snake twitches, forked tongue flickering between thin lips, and the ant skitters quickly away.
7 is the number of dead baby mice, caught and killed to feed a family of hungry hawks. Never again will they live, breathe, and see the light of day. What their lives could have been now will never be--but with their sacrifice, the hawks will survive to greet the rising sun for a little longer.
8 are the flock of geese that fly in a tight V formation, heading south. Though the days are still warm and the fields still golden, something whispers snow...
9 are the water lilies that sit nestled between lily pads. Their soft yellows, pinks, and creams bring splashes of color to the deep, dark pond. Petals trembling in anticipation, they open towards the rising sun as the earth concludes one revolution and begins anew.
All around the pond, creatures begin to stir. With a harsh tseer, two hawks take flight to begin their daily hunt. The snake uncoils from its stump while the ant colony sends out more workers to retrieve the rest of the food discovered by the first ant. Dragonflies buzz into the air past a robin struggling to unearth a worm. The wolves dine on their catch until their muzzles are bloody and their stomachs are full. And the orange cat, stiff from a long night of watching, blinks once, shakes out her paws, and head on home.