this autumn season has been a series of tiny vignettes, none of them poignant or significant enough to get me writing about them. there was the hour i spent being a human chickadee feeder, standing with my arms out, palms full of seed, and letting the little wonders take feed from my hands. that was the day i discovered the leucistic chickadee in my flock, its tiny black eyes starkly beady in its completely white face. there was the evening that i walked down the driveway to move some fallen pine branches when i startled a tree full of roosting juvenile ravens, sending twenty-five or thirty of them out of the ash tree they were just settling in, their grumpy croaks and taffeta wing-beats receding deeper into the woods.

all these little moments got me thinking about the season, though, about how autumn is when everything is dialed back, slowed down, everything becomes somehow more personal.

in spring, everything comes bursting out in a tidal wave of lust and gluttony. you can almost hear the roar of things springing out of the ground, the buzz of incoming swarms of insects, the birds sweeping back north to eat and nest and raise a brood or three. i feel that if i was quiet and still, i could hear a steady pulse, a creaking of growth, through the cacophony of possibilities. there is a drumbeat in spring, dizzying, overwhelming, and contagious.

it pounds on through the summer until early september, when it starts to fade and retreat. the bugs and birds melt away. the grass stops growing. the fleshy summer foliage shrinks and becomes brittle and brown. then the trees, after a brief riot of color, drop their leaves. when the wind blows in fall, the mighty swoosh of a tree in full leaf that sounds like a distant waterfall, becomes a soft clacking of twigs and creaking of boughs. funny that you don’t hear those plaintive sighs from the trees in a spring or summer storm, only in fall. the deer and the turkeys flock up, move down toward the valleys. the bears and skunks go to ground. in the vast silence that’s left, there open up moments where nature feels more accessible, more one-on-one, moments where you can touch the world and it touches back, because it finally has the time to do so.

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