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 every day.

On my hour down the road and back, I’ve been watching autumn descend. A month ago the world was green with mere hints of yellow at the edges and only a slight 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 with no discernible source. Frosted leaves were falling 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 coat: autumn on autumn, slender black legs loping by, 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. Life-spirit gone; artfulness, not.

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

A little grey mouse with black eyes, scampering about unafraid, resisting my attempts to shoo him off the road by jumping up on 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. When it’s just a trickle after days without rain, something seems to be missing from my walk. But 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 cosy 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: subterranean jets. 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 in colour or form, but they have an internal harmony like an inside joke that I love and on one, some of the leaf-body has worn away from its fibrous skeleton, leaving a web of tiny filaments; threadbare fabric.

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