the Octobers

the Octobers

It’s autumn. I’m working on a major writing project, and as the leaves change I contend with words, break up desk time with long walks.

Over the hours down the road and back, autumn descends. A month ago the world was green with mere hints of yellow at the edges and hardly a change in the presence of the trees. This morning, the last day of October, I woke early to a thick yellow light all about—a haze, no discernible source. Frosted leaves fell with papery plinking sounds.

All foliage is yellow now, splashed with red. Summer green has disappeared under a rug of brown. The body of the forest is becoming visible again outside my windows, grey trunks emerging from the dryadic curtain.

A fox came through the edge of the forest near the house, one of the summer’s kits grown into a full, bright, glorious red: autumn on autumn, slender black legs loping, tail floating.

*

I find things on the road.

Every day, though the route is unchanged, there is something new:

A young black cat, arched back with hairs standing up and squinting eyes, skittering away as I approach.

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A flattened snake, turned upside down, silver belly looped around itself.

Two empty acorn caps on a branch. A circular twining of fibers at the center looks like embroidery. They are twins on their twig, facing out into the world together.

A little grey mouse with black eyes, scampering about unafraid, jumping up onto my shoelaces.

A little creek behind a house in which fifteen black cats live (I saw them once, flocking after their person to get fed). Every day the water’s voice is different. Last week it was a torrent, the thickest I’ve ever seen it.

When it rains, I pull out the shabbiest jacket I own, an ancient English country thing too big for me that feels like wearing a tent, but the waxed cotton, though it hasn’t been tended in years, is old and wise and keeps me safe and dry.

The rain leaves puddles along the road, with thick mud bottoms and clear surfaces. Early in the month, frogs leap from the edge as I approach and zoom-dip for safety, skimming off just under the surface. By the end of the month, I haven’t seen a frog in a fortnight.

One evening, a late walk just after dark: there are tiny car-like headlights in a neighbor’s yard. A little robot is mowing the lawn.

A petroglyph in sticks; many white-tailed deer; wild turkeys; tiny red salamanders; birds of all kinds; caterpillars; mushrooms; ferns and flowers and goldenrod; peculiar insects, and leaves! so many leaves! Red, brown, yellow, umber, golden, and rust, all shapes, all sizes. I keep bringing them home with pebbles and acorn caps and putting them on my desk. My favorite might be the sprig of brown oak leaves—not the most dramatic, but they have an internal harmony and on one, some of the leaf-body has worn away from its fibrous skeleton, leaving a web of tiny filaments threadbare.

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