It arrived when I wasn't looking this year.
(I actually wasn't even in Maine.
For the last two long weekends, I have jetted off
to distant places to attend family gatherings.)
Here at home, the festive colors of maple and birch have flown.
Oak leaves, especially tenacious, are brown and crispy
and fixed on their branches--
--probably will be for much of the winter.
Snow has fallen here--and remains on the ground and on roofs
that the sun no longer reaches.
I begin to observe the dying of things--
The sun is lowering, and losing its warmth.
Shadows stretch long over the earth, even at midday.
Hallowe'en brings us goblins and zombies.
The forest floor is carpeted with brown pine needles
and composting leaves.
And "deer season" has begun.
~ ** ~
I have tried not to be too judgmental about deer hunting.
Many people I know who hunt
do it mostly for the excuse of time off from ordinary things
dedicated to quietly being in the woods,
communing with nature.
I know some who never lift their gun, preferring
that sacred eye-to-eye contact, and then letting it be.
Some folks make good use of their deer meat (as they call it in these parts).
For one month, men wear bright orange caps and gloves
when they pump gas or buy groceries--
as if any minute now they will fly off into the woods
to "get their deer".
In many states, deer have taken over the suburbs.
Gardens have to be fenced in, Lyme disease
is rampant. Shrubs and ornamentals can disappear all in a night.
Yet, deer are graceful creatures, and I would no more
kill one intentionally than I would fly to Mars.
Walking in the woods or fields is riskier this month,
And blaze orange is not my color.
So impartiality is a challenge for me these four weeks in November,
culminating the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
I breathe a sigh of relief when the sun goes down that day.
~ ** ~
A friend has a pile of antlers in his back yard
from past hunting seasons.
Saved, I think, not as trophies, but as objects of wonder.
The moss they have collected is soft and beautiful.
The markings on each point tell stories
I can only imagine.
My favorite wonder is what I think of as the 'knitting place".
We probably have markings like this on our skulls.
I find them beautiful.
Death, like other aspects of nature,
simply is. A necessary part of the circle of life.
Late fall reminds me of all this.
It is a time that forces me to think of endings, diminishings, loss.
...At least until the light starts to come back again
the third week in December.
To make me think once more of beginnings, growth, new life.
I am so grateful to live in a part of the world
where these transitions are so clear
and where the meditation on change
keeps me from taking much of anything for granted.