Every year I write at least one column about how Fall is my favorite season. I can’t help it. Well, my second favorite, in truth.
The camp pot is about to start percolating a fresh cup of coffee in time with a song by the Ventures playing in my memory. Outside the kitchen window, the tree I don’t ever remember its name has lost all its foliage, early to bed for the winter season. But the Silver maple, still mostly deep chili green, and the dogwood, in deep chili green and merlot red, are clad in late fall attire.
I’m looking out my window at a killer snowstorm. Snowmageddon, it was supposed to be. The governor has declared a state of emergency for a large portion of the state, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike has banned several types of trailer-trucks.
Sometimes the world seems small, and getting smaller. A young woman sat on her front step watching the baby play. I stopped to say hello. During our chat, we discovered she and her fiancé had been to visit a friend of hers and his in a state where I once lived. We chatted awhile.
I wake in the morning, about the same time as always, and notice that outside is darker longer than it was only a few short months ago. I get to make a similar observation in the evening as darkness blankets my home like a youngster pulling a wool blanket over his head to keep the monsters at bay.
Most every evening, between 6 and 6:30, I hear the approaching honking of Canada geese coming from, roughly, north. Last night nearly 100 birds appeared over the trees then made a 45-degree turn to the left, the entire chevron bending itself around an invisible post in my neighbor’s yard, until the entire formation was pointed toward the Chesapeake Bay, or maybe Florida.
I saw something last weekend I’d never seen off television. Tens of thousands of Snow geese covered a rather large pond near Kleinfeltersville, occasionally lifting off en masse to create a low cloud of white over the water. The birds were enroute their Arctic birthing grounds.
At rest, they virtually blanketed large portions of the pond, mostly paddling around in small circles filling the air with a sound like hundreds of playing puppies. Here and there, a pair would actually move from one side of the crowd to another, but mostly they stayed where they landed.
The flock of mallards launched from the creek, reminding me that a bright orange vest might be a good safety idea during deer season, but not so great if one is trying to slip up on the ducks. Indeed, most birds have excellent eyesight. They require it. Unlike ground-locked critters that can lie low and wait to spot something moving, birds are the movers, and sometimes quite fast. If they are going to eat – or at least not be eaten – they must spot their targets a long way off and make quick friend-or-food decisions.
Mornings are foggy, though not so much near the ground. In airplane parlance, the “ceiling” is a couple hundred feet above the surface, visibility likely measured in miles, were not the line of site interrupted by hills and curves. I’ll take the hills and curves over straight line of sight, though, any day.
Seen from inside the house, signs of incipient winter decorate the landscape. Rust colored leaves torn from the oak in front of our home, sometimes flutter like a fishing lure tossed into a still water pool, sometimes flow horizontally like an invisibly crystaline river carrying its flotsam to the ocean.