No frost yet, but the woods’ edge is riddled with fresh chinks of sky. The squeaky rattle of a winter wren as it pops out of the weeds.
Endlessly flitting about the same patch of sun up in the woods, what looks like an enchanted moth must be a leaf caught by caterpillar silk.
The forest is still a-flicker with falling leaves—astonishing this late in the year. Distant church bells. A chipmunk’s agitated ticking.
White sky, bright leaves, shivering on the branch as if in ecstasy. The sine wave of a gray squirrel’s tail and body bounding up the road.
Brighter color between the trees: sunrise. Gray as their trunks: a doe and her grown fawns. From down hollow, a screech owl’s trill.
Sunlight for the first time in days, flooding through new holes in the forest canopy. The wistful theme song of a white-throated sparrow.
Cold and gloomy despite the bright leaves; even the wren sounds querulous. When I look again, the unmoving fly is gone from the wall.
Gold on gold: a kinglet’s crest among the birch leaves. Rust on rust: a chipmunk’s fur among rain-flattened tangles of stiltgrass.
Just past daybreak it begins to rain and the forest is full of falling leaves—a slow, steady flutter of summer yellow into the drab shadows.
The goldenrod is all brown, but each breeze sprinkles it with yellow from the woods. The last hornet returns to her ghost town of a nest.