The sky begins to clear by late morning. I get up from my reading about the extinction of rare frogs and go out again to shiver in the sun.
Under a white sky, the trees rock and sway, showing the pale undersides of their leaves—a palms-up gesture of welcome or helplessness.
Brief shower from a blue sky; a rumble of thunder. Goldenrod by the woods’ edge is turning yellow for the second time with fallen leaves.
Two gray squirrels in their fall colors—snouts and bellies stained brown from walnut hulls—dash past each other on the rain-slick trunk.
Overcast and cool with jays, jays, jays. A red-tailed hawk’s pale breast flashing through the leaves, the sound of wingtips clipping limbs.
All the small birds converge on a birch tree to scold some hidden thing. It never stirs. They drift away. Sunlight settles on the leaves.
Pieces of walnut husk plop onto the driveway. A yellow leaf trapped by caterpillar silk flops like a fish a foot above the fishless stream.
At first light, the soft wickering of migrant wood thrushes. A deer snorts three times, and suddenly I’m seeing a bear in every shadow.
Blue jays in the rain, less blue than gray, converge on an oak one tree in from the edge, tails like hands spread for a throw of dice.
I dream of giant salamanders and wake to a pair of red-tailed hawks on the tree limb closest to the porch, heads pivoting like gun turrets.
The door under the porch is ajar, as if a bear or burglar had been there. Strangled cries from overhead: a crow diving at a slow hawk.
Clear and cold. I follow my breath as it drifts over the ridges and valleys of the tin roof sheltering the oil tanks. A patter of acorns.
One of the autumn grasses beloved of Basho blooms an alien red at the edge of the yard. Sudden jumbled music from a V of non-migrant geese.
Some small hawk has been calling since first light, hidden in the treetops: soft brief cries, soon joined by a chorus of its enemies.