Autumnal Absorption

Mornings are foggy, though not so much near the ground. In airplane parlance, the “ceiling” is a couple hundred feet above the surface, visibility likely measured in miles, were not the line of site interrupted by hills and curves. I’ll take the hills and curves over straight line of sight, though, any day.

Seen from inside the house, signs of incipient winter decorate the landscape. Rust colored leaves torn from the oak in front of our home, sometimes flutter like a fishing lure tossed into a still water pool, sometimes flow horizontally like an invisibly crystaline river  carrying its flotsam to the ocean.

The forests are swapping green for shades of yellows and oranges and reds. Catbirds pluck bright crimson berries from the dogwood. Goldfinch, on their way through from northern climes to southern, decorate the shrubs, fluffing and drying their feathers after bathing in the stream. The woods are mostly silent, except for the thud, thump, bump of acorns falling to earth.

Autumn officially arrived, according to the “The Old Farmers Almanac,” at 10:29 EDT – the point in our celestial rhythm at which night is the same length as day. Or, at least, pretty close.

There should be a name for the past few days. Foggy mornings, seemingly portending the coming snows, looking colder through the window than turns out when I walk outside. I’ll either be happy in a couple months that I have a snow-thrower, or pleased at the gasoline I won’t have to burn moving it.

By afternoon, the rain that morning promised and failed to deliver has given way to sunshine too warm for the earlier-mandated sweatshirt.

The trees and grass suddenly have become hunting grounds for a plethora of spiders in as many colors. Daddy Long-Legs, of course, wander around the compost pile, where a bright yellow critter with zig-zag black racing stripes and brightly translucent red legs has created a net stretched from the fence surrounding the pile to some nearby shrubbery.

What appears to be a Wolf spider has constructed a web on an unused bird feeder hanger, and a beautiful orange creature lies hiding in a curled dogwood leaf, waiting to pounce at the first indication of prey ensnared in the trap below.

Deep in the early morning hours between dinner and breakfast, I can look straight up at the twinkling stars. Thousands of them so far away they stopped twinkling millions of years ago, and their light still streams toward us the way a stream of water continues on its way after the hose valve has closed.

When I look toward horizontal, indirect lighting from a nearby town softens the Fall fog and turns our oak into a horror movie prop. Down the road, distant yard lights make out of focus white blobs hover in front of otherwise unseeable houses. Somewhere, there are ghost hunters noting spirits of long-departed soldiers.

In previous months, we tossed peanuts out the back door, and watched gray squirrels hide them, digging caches in the bark mulch or underneath the lawn. The grass, then soft and sensual underfoot, now crunches and pokes my feet, and suffers the energetic searches as the once thrifty rodents expose their treasures and, along with fresh acorns and walnuts, carry them high into treetops, to the hollow leaf piles lodged in the junctures of branches and trunks, that will mean coziness on frigid winter nights.

I love Spring, when youthful people and plants reveal the wonders hidden the previous three months by cold and other detritus, but I think I love Fall more, when all the work of Summer has come to fruition, and the world celebrates its glee with glorious weeks-long fireworks.

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