It was a foggy, wet, and gloomy morning last week, when five deer came by to spend the day. Their visits aren’t unusual. This time, I was working at the computer upstairs when I noticed them standing, rather oddly, staring back into the trees. Two, at first, then a third, and a fourth, and a fifth. They were all standing fairly motionless and seemed to be looking in the same direction. Soon afterwards, they began wandering, as I’d expect, nibbling on whatever food morsels they find on a cold, not-quite-frozen morning. Not much later, I saw one, and then another, bend and lower its front legs, and bring itself to a resting position on wet leaves in the back part of the yard. I’ve seen them do this on hot summer afternoons too, in the ivy, in the same area, but the shady bed of soft, cool ivy on a muggy July afternoon seems more appealing than the soaked cushion of wet, leathery oak leaves on a cold December morning.
They spent much of the day in the yard as I moved downstairs to work in the kitchen, and they were close enough, it would seem, to be aware of me through the nearby windows. They nibbled on what they could find, they chased each other, and they rested, not far away, as I busied myself with a new recipe.
Deer shouldn’t be so comfortable around people, but the unfortunate reality is humans continually reduce the availability of larger wooded areas, while deer need to scavenge for nourishment. They still move with the agility and strength of the wild, and yet their appearance is gentle and unthreatening, and their nearby presence brings something like a mutual recognition. It’s probably not the way it should be, nevertheless, one can do worse on a cold, wet, December day than to look out and enjoy the company of five deer nearby.
It was the image out the windshield that framed my state of mind. A car-lined street. And trees up and down both sides. The first time in many months I looked out and saw trees that looked like winter. They all looked like winter. A clear November sky, and it was the trees that made the statement.
Time marches forward. We’re practically at the beginning of December, yet I still feel I’m wandering, lost in time somehow. How long has it been with this feeling? Months for sure. Like I need to wake up one morning soon and feel grounded. Is this an end-of-summer thing? It’s been going on since then. I don’t think it’s that, but it’s a longing for the cold. I find myself looking forward, in hope, to colder days. I long to be reassured, comforted, free of fear and worries. Don’t we all? And I expect winter to deliver that comfort and freedom? Maybe I should read my book, and hope for the best.
An evening out back, in the dark, to cover plants. Surrounded by whatever’s left of ragged plants that have given their all, and the smell of someone’s fireplace. We’re well into fall, and yet the morning glories have just started producing buds. I respect their determination, their persistence, and feel the obligation to do my part, which is to protect them from cold nights. I looked up from the task at hand, to the dark cover of tall trees, and listened, deliberately, to the quiet.
I listened for crickets, and heard none. None at all. No cricket-style ‘call and response’. Nothing. It could have been winter.
Yet, in the midst of this quiet, I hear the soft pitapat of dried leaves rustling above me. A familiar rustling. A sound tucked away from the past, not from golden leaves and autumn nights, but from ancient trees and winter days. Days at the end of a long, bitter winter, when February winds blow through lofty limbs and the scattering of leaves still hanging on huge weathered pin oaks.
I turned to step back inside, and caught the creak of a single cricket. One lone, strong-willed cricket with something left to say, calling out from somebody else’s yard, somewhere in the distance.
A single tenacious cricket, and October’s wind rustling the leaves. Fall’s whimsy.
I want to get caught in the spirit of some idea or words and write something that feels like the ocean, like lightning in the distance, like something glorious. Like the lights that shimmer off ordinary plants after a rain.
Why are clouds so much more when they hover above the open sea? Something about the color of the ocean and the blue sky and summer cotton clouds, ahead, above, and all around. The sky and the ocean, similarly infinities.
Someone’s gazing at clouds from a spot on the shore, and I wish it was me. I can almost feel it now. And I wish it was me.