The landscape and its population are transformed. Shorn of the dense stalks, our view is lengthened and widened to coming winter’s stark openness. Whatever—and whomever—the cornstalks obscured now risks exposure. Deer wander the furrows and debris, seeking sustenance, and providing defensive exercises for Riley and Clancy as they patrol the eastern windows.
Every morning, between 7 and 9 A.M., I receive faithful, raucous, reports delivered every-5-minutes in yips and barks and meant to alert me to deer, turkey, squirrel, rabbit and low-flying hawk movements on the lawn or in the bordering woods. Or in the far distance, just in case territorial invasion might be imminent. (By 9 A.M., the daylight counsels the wild ones to conceal themselves again, and the dogs are ready for a well-earned nap. Mom is ready for a Bloody Mary, but settles for tea and quiet.)
Other surprises have come out from the cornstalks as well. This little fellow emerged from the farmer’s field beside the trail and followed me home a couple of days ago.
Apparently, his first year of hard-knock life has sharpened his abilities to identify me as an easy mark. He is now housed and fed and has received a fine once-over from our wonderful veterinarian. It will take a few weeks before “Fergus” is ready to socialize with the rest of the clan; hopefully, his integration with the other 4-leggeds will be peaceful. (Insert laughs.)
Our summer companions have begun to ready themselves for hibernation, flown to warmer habitats, or surrendered their brief lives to the circle’s rhythm. This beautiful Clouded Sulphur butterfly succumbed to the cold that blew down the trail last night. I offered it a blessing and gentle burial beneath leaves at the side of the trail.
The red-winged blackbirds are flocking up, rehearsing songs, and preparing for their migration. Huge numbers gather on the new islands the drought formed in the river. The air is warming again and expected to reach temperatures of 65°F (18°C) by the weekend before dipping back down again to a more seasonal 40°F (4°C) on Sunday. The blackbird choir will be missed, but their departure signals that the welcome and deep silence of winter is near.
Departures may also serve to herald the new.
Frost, the art designer that accompanies our colder temperatures, nightly paints the gardens and grasses with glittering beauty, creating visions of stunning glory even in death, a fine way to translate one’s energy during times of transition, I think.
Conversely, bringing the houseplants back indoors last month generated unexpected and early blooms in the cactus, violets, and even the jade plants, making the house more colorful and cheerful than the grays and browns that begin to dominate outside.
Our daily walks are a bit more brisk and bundled, and we’re happy to withdraw indoors, rest with books and tea (and 4-leggeds’ treats), and slow our rhythms down to congruence with the rest of nature, grateful for the sweet blessings of Fergus and cactus blooms, heralds of hope and affirmations that the circle’s turning continues and continues to offer surprising gifts, if we open our eyes and hearts.