Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crisp, Clear Autumn

Crisp, misty mornings. Clear, cold nights. Autumn can be surprisingly stunning, with every turn in the road a new, perfect picture: a frost covered, sparkly carcass of a black bear; a narrow band of low clouds over the lake; the whitish, translucent ice of the milky way; a shooting star.  I love the mornings this time of year. The mist and fog make everything soft and light.

My morning drive is often an obstacle course of road-crossing mammals. One week, I counted 6 different species, including a red fox and a coyote. A few days ago, though, a large black cow appeared out of the mist. Slowly, steadily it stepped out of the brush, stopping and looking in my direction, the fog swirling around its hefty outline. Fortunately, I was able to stop. When one cow finds a hole in the fence, and you can be sure the others will follow. I put the truck in reverse, and backed it into the owner's driveway only to be met by his camo-covered, ski-masked, gun-wielding son riding a 4 wheeler.  I'll never get used to seeing guns up close, particularly first thing in the morning. Cow, I pointed. In the road, I said. Cow? not a horse? he asked through the knitted muffler. (see, this happens more than you think!) I repeated --cow-- pointing up the road to nothing. The beast was gone, as if it were an apparition.

Closer to home, the willow tree still holds its green leaves but our maple trees are bare. One of them exposes the Baltimore oriole's nest, suspended on the end of a branch over the road. I can't tell you how many times I stood in the middle of the road watching that oriole fly in and out--right there--yet I've never been able to see that nest. Bluebirds and mockingbirds are feeding on seeds and berries while fighting off the bluejays, and Canada geese fly so low you can hear the whoosh-whoosh of their wings as they pass overhead.

While I crunch through the frozen grass, I take in autumn's crisp, dry breath, and keep watch for the return of the short-eared owls. Their moth-like flight and piercing eyes will be my entertainment for the winter. Until then, I soak up the ever-changing light, keeping my eyes open for the next beautiful thing.

1 comment:

  1. I love fall in the Finger Lakes. We are so fortunate to see such beauty daily. I've recently heard an owl at night near our house. I would love to set eyes on it!