Our Forthcoming Fall

The buckeyes are always the first to go. It starts with the subtlest wilting of each fingered leaf. The edges begin to curl, brown at the tips as if turning back from the sunlight. And then the yellow, bright as a goldfinch, spreading in just a matter of days. In less than two weeks, every leaf on the tree will be dappled with color.

The birds are lifting, too. Juncos suddenly seem abundant, ready to wait out the winter, though the bunting are long gone with summer and even the finches are fewer and fewer by the day. The deer are feeding earlier in the evenings and later into the morning, stockpiling anything green in a race against the colors, before it all eventually succumbs to the forest floor in ranges of gold and orange, maple red. Much later, everything will be white.

In the lower field, where I’ve started this year’s woodpile, two rows of buckeye rounds stacked three feet high await splitting. I started in on some yesterday, splitting about fifteen rounds and stacking the split pieces toward the South, in a patch of the field where I know the sunlight holds its gaze the longest this time of year. With any luck, I won’t be burning this wood until February ’09, which is still cutting it close in my book, though it’s far better than last year’s cache.

The deer have been especially interested this year, nosing about like dogs, tracing the tips of each sawed round with their black-tipped noses. Even the tarp won’t dissuade them, young ones milling about between piles of split wood. I’m not sure whether it’s the scent of the tree or my own, but something pulls them there day after day. I watch them from the porch as I brush my teeth in the morning, tell them not to mind me, I’m just waking up.

It’s going to be a happy fall. I’ve started meditating again, and with a slew of freelance work off my desk, I can start to fill my well again to prepare for the next round of creative work.

I realized yesterday that I never really stopped after graduation. Summer came and went and I only went to the river a few times. The rhododenrons reached their burly arms into footpaths and entryways around the property. Ivy crept around the gutters and the upper retaining wall. A hive of paper wasps managed to complete a terrifyingly perfect nest beneath the far wing of the porch. I did not notice. I was writing.

Rather than fight the transition of seasons, I will mark it with a similar transition of my own. It’s best, anyway, to transition with the natural world—changing surroundings more readily beget a changed inner landscape and I’m all for it.

So here’s to breathing deeply and taking the time to notice what this forest has to offer. And today? Today I trimmed back those rhodi branches, hacked away the ivy, and tarped the wood for tonight’s coming rain. Who knows about tomorrow—it’s another day.

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