We investigate the low-temperature phase of QCD and the crossover region with two light flavors of quarks. The chiral expansion around the point (T,mq = 0) in the temperature vs. quark-mass plane indicates that a sharp real-time excitation exists with the quantum numbers of the pion. We determine its dispersion relation and test the applicability of the chiral expansion. The time-dependent correlators are also analyzed using the Maximum Entropy Method (MEM), yielding consistent results. Finally, we test the predictions of ordinary chiral perturbation theory around the point (T = 0,mq = 0) for the temperature dependence of static observables. Around the crossover temperature, we find that all quantities considered depend only mildly on the quark mass in the considered range 8MeV ≤ mMS ≤ 15MeV.