Saturday, November 19, 2005


"Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable, the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street or road by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese. Both are warnings of chill days ahead, fireside and topcoat weather." --- Hal Borland

Seventeen degrees at sunup. Not a cloud in the sky.

The clearing is literally covered with leaves that have fallen during the past week. Playful breezes snatch up leaves from the ground and whirl them up above the treetops before setting them down on the opposite side of the clearing or even far down the hillside.

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless
like silence,
To silence.
--- Thomas Hood, Ode: Autumn, 1827

The silence is broken by the drumming and calling of a Pileated woodpecker chasing grubs deep in a tall snag standing along the power easement.

How cold it is! Even the lights are cold;
They have put shawls of fog around them, see!
What if the air should grow so dimly white
That we would lose our way along the paths
Made new by walls of moving mist receding
The more we follow. . . . What a silver night!
That was our bench the time you said to me
The long new poem -- but how different now,
How eerie with the curtain of the fog
Making it strange to all the friendly trees!
--- Sara Teasdale, A November Night

The deck railing is decorated with small birds; chickadees, goldfinches, titmice and nuthatches all vying with one another for the seeds left overnight. I put out a few more hands full of seeds thinking there would be enough for each bird to have its share. Soon they were joined by juncos, blue jays and gray squirrels each jockeying for a place in line. Every perch on the feeders has birds coming in like jets into Kennedy Airport on a holiday weekend. The large feeders host purple finches and an occasional cardinal or rose-breasted grosbeak.
I emptied the birdbath of its saucer of ice and filled it with warm water. In less than half an hour ice was beginning to form again.

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." ~Andrew Wyeth


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