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.
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.