Land Journal: October 2013

In August 2013 I moved to Plainfield, Massachusetts, to the foot of Deer Hill/West Mountain, on the edge of the valley of the Westfield River. The journal below is my story of getting to know my new home: the land that stretches up the side of the mountain behind my house.

October 31, 2013: Fog and the Form of Trees

We’re in the clouds this morning, a damp, gray veil of fog, not thick by coastal standards but thick enough that when I look through the trees the shapes and colors grow soft, compressing my sense of depth. On a clear day “distant” means the hillside a mile away on the other side of the valley; today it means one or two hundred feet; as far as I can see before the fog takes over. The moisture brings out the color in the beech leaves: a sea of warm rusty browns, in some ways even more beautiful than the brilliant yellow they were a week or two ago.

With the trees, other than on the beeches, now largely stripped bare, their subtle underlying forms are revealed. Even the tallest and straightest has some slight curve in the trunk, arcing gently upward in a massive column to where it separates into branches far above. There are no truly straight lines here. And from the largest trunk to the smallest branches, the two sides carefully follow each other: a sweep to the left on one side matched precisely on the other side; parallel lines following each other up and up. Except they aren’t quite parallel: a slow taper begins just above the ground and carries all the way up, only ending at the smallest branches. It’s such a slight taper as to be almost invisible much of the time but it’s always there, except in the most convoluted of trees: rough and irregular with ancient age or distorted by injury or illness. The bigger changes in thickness, that allow a tree to taper from a trunk over a foot in diameter to tiny branches, come when a trunk or branch forks into two, each “half” smaller than the whole, but not actually truly “half.” Woodworkers call these “crotches” and the wood inside is gloriously intertwined, to keep the tree from splitting in two. But the roots are where things really get wild: twisting and turning over and around rocks, through cracks, and down into the soil where their form and structure are hidden from us. They grip the earth mightily, keeping all that is above ground upright, and drawing water and sustenance up from the soil, to feed what is above. When summer comes again, the roots will in turn be fed by the sun-generated nutrients flowing down from the leaves above: the tree’s glorious living crown, enveloping the branches and hiding the underlying form that is now revealed to us.

October 30, 2013: Ice Pellets; a Fallen Birch

It sounds almost like rain only a little sharper: small ice pellets falling from a gray sky, pinging gently when they land. The forest grows slowly lighter as the sun comes up, somewhere on the other side of the thick clouds. There’s never a moment when you can say for certain that the sun has risen.

The forest is deeply still, as if it’s been frozen by the cold ice-rain-snow that’s falling. But the gray sky overhead makes the yellow-brown, leaf covered forest floor seem brighter: an endless warm carpet of leaves rolling away through the dark tree trunks.

The top of a good size birch tree has fallen to the forest floor, its many white branches flung down to the ground like thick strands if hair, flowing down the hill towards me. The tree was dead before it broke because the smallest branches are as thick as my thumb; the smaller branches having decayed and fallen away while the tree was still standing. Following the branches uphill, or what was once down the tree, they slowly merge one into the next into the next, the last two joining to form the trunk. Going the other direction, downhill, it’s as if the trunk is a mighty river, splitting up into many channels as it flows out across a delta into the ocean. Only this great river broke in two, sending its branches crashing to the ground.

October 29, 2013: The Forest Floor and the Flowing Stream

All through the summer the forest floor lay dark and hidden: layered with dark needles and last year’s decaying leaves; in the shadow of this year’s leaves overhead; and hidden under the closer greenery of bushes and brambles. Now, recently voluptuous bushes are just bare twigs, concealing nothing, and the trees overhead stand stripped nearly bare. For a brief period the forest floor is the center of attention: bright with this year’s leaves, open to the sky above, and not yet hidden under a concealing blanket of snow. Deep under the year-round shadows of the hemlocks it’s still dark. But anywhere there are other trees mixed in the forest floor glows, lit up by the fallen leaves, rolling off through the woods like a soft fabric, every bump and hollow and roll made visible. Walking through the woods is like running my hands over a smooth, polished wooden sculpture. Except that rather than just reaching out to touch it with my hand, it’s a sculpture big enough for me to be right in, gliding over the folds and ripples of the land, experiencing the form with my entire body.

Rolling down across this grand sculpture is the stream, its waters growing colder every day. This morning the water is 43 degrees and sharp against my skin, biting in a way that it didn’t when it was just a few degrees warmer. A birch twig lies in the stream, hanging out over the edge of a small cascade such that drops of water run down along it. This morning a small icicle has formed there, reaching down from the twig to the surface of the water in the pool below, liquid still for at least a few more weeks.

October 28, 2013: Sunrise and Dry Leaves

The ridge over which I’ve been watching the sun rise is a mile away, on the other side of the small valley in which I live. The crest of the ridge is rough with the silhouettes of the trees, and there are many windows through to the sky beyond. It’s been through these windows that the sun’s first light has shown, twinkling brightly before the full sun emerges above the treetops. This ridge dips gently to the south until it drops below the horizon line formed by hills 8 or 9 miles east of me, and in the last few days the sun, shifting slowly south with the coming winter, has crossed this line. It will rise over these distant hills until around February 12th of next year, as many days on the other side of the winter solstice as we are before it now. There will be no twinkling through the trees in that time. In an instant the top edge of the sun simply snaps over the horizon: not there one moment and there the next, even when I am looking right at the place where I know it will rise. As it climbs a little higher the sun at first appears quite oval, distorted by the atmosphere, but soon becomes fully round; shining low across the land.

A little below the ridge I find a small hollow amongst young beeches, where the leaves lie deep, soft and dry. Despite the cold frozen air, the leaves feel warm against my body when I lie down and bury myself in them, looking up at the yellow-brown leaves still on the trees, just overhead. The nearly horizontal sunlight picks up the subtle texture of the leaves: slight valleys along each vein, gently rounded ridges between; the veins like small streams flowing amongst soft hills. I do my best to lie still but even so the fallen leaves rustle continuously; floating gently over and around me; brushing ever so lightly against my skin.

October 24, 2013: An Ancient Hall

The leaves lie thick on the ground, sparkling with frost this morning. Dry and light, not yet matted down as they will be soon; my feet sink into them, crackling with every footstep. There’s still a little yellow here and there in the beech grove and even a very little green on small trees close to the forest floor, but most of the leaves are now a deep rich brown that imparts a warmth to the forest despite the cold air. I’m standing in an ancient hall, amongst tall columns that once supported a great roof, now fallen to the ground, leaving the hall open to the blue sky above. A cold west wind is blowing sending a few thin skeins of cloud skittering across the sky above the trees, all lit up by the morning sun.

October 23, 2013: My Morning Dance

Moving through the woods without a path to follow is my morning dance with the land: ducking under a partially fallen tree, weaving through a stand of young beeches; in each moment choosing where to place my next step, looking at the land and the forest ahead. Walking on a trail it’s all too easy for my mind to wander to places far from the forest. Leaving behind the trails is often called bushwhacking but to me this suggests an aggressive, get-out-of-my-way, approach to the land, where I prefer to listen more carefully to my dance partner and not bump and shove and break her so much. But this doesn’t mean no contact. I brush against the leaves like brushing against a partner’s dress, and swing around a small, smooth beech tree like we are swinging on a dance floor. And while I usually prefer to move slowly since there is so much to see, the dance need not always be at a measured pace. It’s a fine thing to run through the golden-brown beech wood, kicking up the leaves with my feet, and run down a trail too, where I can go full tilt with a bit of abandon, not worrying about what might trip me.

But a big oak tree brings me to a full stop. I cannot simply pass by such a mighty tree. It’s almost two full arm-spans around: about 3½ feet in diameter. Pressing myself against its rough bark I look up to where the massive trunk separates into many branches, more than a few of which would on their own be substantial trees. Here they are high in the air, spreading out and up from the trunk, filling this part of the forest, a giant of the dance floor.

October 22, 2013: A Scroll Painting

At dawn, the waning moon is high enough to be reflected in the stream, its white light shining down through the hemlocks to a small pool of bright water in the dark forest.

Two trees, not far from each other, frame my view of the sunrise, creating a long narrow painting like one of those Chinese scrolls, a foot wide and 15 feet long, starting at my feet and running out and up and up and over my head. Forming the right edge is a small maple, maybe six inches in diameter, with a kink in its trunk a few feet up and a handful of yellow leaves still hanging on, right up at the top. On the left is a similar size maple, but with a 12 foot long crack splitting the trunk in two, creating an even narrower view right through the tree to the forest and the horizon beyond. At my feet are dry, warm brown leaves, spilling down the steep hillside and over the edge of the rocks into the valley below. Deep in the valley — just above the rocks and dry leaves in my scroll — are a few beeches, still with hints of green in their leaves. But the green quickly gives way to leaves yellow and brown, still thick on the trees, and then bare branches higher up, dark against the far, gray hillside. We’ve reached the exact middle of the scroll, growing bright where the sun is about to rise, and just above it clouds lit up by the still hidden sun. The bare branches from below keep reaching up, filling the upper part of the scroll against a background of blue sky, veiled with a thickening layer of high clouds. A few leaves hang on here and there overhead: golden yellow maple and birch leaves.

The sun rises, a brilliant ball of orange, its light reflecting off the leaves in the valley below.

October 21, 2013: Death and Life

It’s silent, still and cold outside half an hour before sunrise; there’s not quite a frost, but very close. The moon, now three nights past full, is still well up in the west. The eastern horizon is growing orange, while the sky above is still blue-black. A great horned owl calls briefly off to the east, giving first a startling screech, followed deep hoots.

As the sun is about to rise, birds start calling all around my sunrise perch; soft calls drifting through the woods, rather than the long sweet songs of spring. Sadly, there’s also the sound of cars and trucks drifting up from Route 9, half a mile away, down in the valley. With the leaves largely off the trees now, the road noise is louder than it was a few weeks ago. It’s nice to drop down to the stream and listen instead to the gentle sound of water flowing over rocks.

Lower down, deep in the hemlocks, a sweet birch has fallen across the stream. A fungus must be growing all through the wood because the bark is home to a forest of small leathery white “petals,” the “fruiting bodies” or “conks” of the fungus growing inside the tree. The fruiting bodies release the spores that drift away to grow new fungi. The young conks are tiny. The oldest and largest are the size of a silver dollar, wrinkled, with fine concentric lines on them. They range across the black bark, forming an abstract design flowing down the dead sweet birch, over the running water of the stream.

It’s cold down here in the shade of the hemlocks and the stream has dropped below 50 degrees for the first time this fall. It’s 48 this morning in the stream and just 50 in the quarry pond. Below 50 the water takes on a sharper quality against my skin, pushing back a bit more, saying “you can’t stay in here for long or you will die.” But the cold also makes me feel more beautifully alive; both death and life in the black waters of the pond, as there is both death and life in the fungi on the black birch.

October 20, 2013: Last Flowers

As I set out on my walk, the moon is shining, clear, cold and white through the trees. Soon it’s hidden behind the hills as I start climbing up to see the sunrise. Coming to my perch from a new direction, from the east, up the steep face, I think I’ve found a new place to watch the sun come up, until I climb up over the last moss covered bit of ledge and look around at the familiar landmarks of my usually lookout. But it still feels new having approached from a new side. Sitting on a moss covered rock, watching the sun come up I feel like I could launch myself off the edge and soar out over the valley, floating on the wind in the morning sun.

But I decide not to test this idea today. Instead I make my way slowly down the eastern face again, following a new route. On the way down I come upon some tiny lavender flowers growing amongst the mossy rocks. With a hard freeze likely and even maybe a little snow coming this week, these feel like the last flowers of the year.

Even though I’ve now walked this land many times there are still new things to discover at every turn. Many landmarks have become familiar: a particular fallen tree, bit of ledge, hillside, or cascade in the stream; but there are still new things to see every few feet: flowers and rocks, trees curving up towards the sun and newly blown down to lie on the ground.

Back at home I look up the flower: “Herb-Robert” I think is its name.

October 19, 2013: Feeling the World

Cooler weather has returned: the temperature fell to 36 this morning. Yesterday it didn’t get below 50. There’s no frost but the ground feels cold against my feet. Soon I will have to start wearing at least sandals. There’s a joy in my contact with the world being unmediated by shoe-leather and fabric. I can feel the leaves and earth against my feet, the branches brushing against my body, and the sun and rain on my skin. But, there’s also a limit to what my body will put up with. My feet are cracked, scratched and bruised and my skin is cold.

Sitting in the leaves, looking out through the thinning trees from my sunrise perch, I can see the long straight horizon line: from the north through the east all the way down to the south. The area in which I live is called “the Hilltowns” but it’s really a plateau dissected by river valleys. The Westfield River flows by a half mile to the south and 500 feet below me. I can see its valley winding off the southeast, filled with white mist this morning. In the distance there’s a pool of mist where the river turns south and vanishes into the hills.

Shortly after sunrise I suddenly find myself surrounded by small birds. Many other mornings I’ve seen only a few here but this morning they are all around: sparrows and chickadees and some raucous bluejays off in the distance. A sparrow lands just six feet from me, close enough so I can see every feather, and seems not to notice me at all as he hops about in the branches of a small tree. Then a woodpecker sets into a tree a little further down the hill.

Scrambling down to the east from my sunrise perch, down the steep face of the hill, it hardly feels like I am on a plateau. The land drops away in a series of steps, flat areas interrupted by steep drops, where I have to work my way down between the rocks, sometimes sitting down in the leaves to ease myself down the steep places. The leaves provide a welcome cushion, but also a slippery surface to move on. After three such steps, I am down to the flatter land along the stream, its waters running down to the Westfield River, still 300 feet below me. The sun is up now but it’s cold in the shadow of the hemlocks. The water in the stream is 50 degrees this morning.

October 18, 2013: After the Rain

In parts of the forest the brightest colors are now on the ground, brought down by last night’s rain and wind. It’s a glorious carpet of color underfoot. The bare trees above are winter-stark and beautiful in their own way. But amongst the beeches the forest is still a sea of yellows and warm browns, with even a bit of green here and there. And other trees are holding on too. Deep in the hemlocks there’s a sweet birch, just six inches in diameter but 50 feet tall, with a tiny crown of leaves, all bright yellow. Shaking the tree doesn’t bring down any leaves, but it sets the leaves to shimmering like jewels in the morning sun.

From the ridge I can now see the whole sweep of the eastern horizon, where just a week ago I had to find a window in the trees through which to see the sun rise. An hour earlier there was just an occasional star winking briefly through the clouds. By sunrise the sky overhead is deep blue and there are just enough clouds off to the east to turn brilliant orange. A cool west wind is sweeping over the ridge, bringing down yet more leaves.

October 17, 2013: Fall’s Progress

What little green remains in the forest is almost all low down now, within a few feet of the ground. Above that: yellow, to the tops of the trees. Looking down into a hollow tucked into the side of the mountain I am surrounded by fall. Working my way down this steep rocky hillside feels like diving down along the face of a coral reef into a sea of gold. Except the real ocean gets darker as you go down and usually ends in gray mud or sand, whereas going down in this sea-forest just immerses me deeper into the gold, all the way down to the bottom of fallen leaves, faded a bit but lovely to run through in bare feet. Looking up from below, the trees tower over me. On many of the highest branches the leaves are becoming sparse. Even the smallest breeze sends down a shower of new leaves, rattling dryly as they fall, brushing other leaves still holding on, and sometimes getting caught there, but usually making their way down to the already thick layer of leaves on the forest floor. Leaving this lovely hollow I continue down, eventually reaching the dark depths, the hemlock forest, where there’s just an occasional pool of gold to light my way. I go from one golden pool to the next, and find one glorious wine-red pool below a nearly bare red maple. This draws me back for a second visit, to lie amongst the leaves and watch more come spiraling and tumbling down, and feel a warm soft mist of almost-rain falling on my skin.

October 15, 2013: A White Pine

Resting at the foot of a mighty white pine, on the thick bed of soft needles that cover the ground all around. The ground slopes steeply down to the southwest and I can hear the stream flowing through the valley below. Pressing myself against the rough bark of the tree I measure its circumference with my body: it’s nearly two full arm-spans around, or about 130 inches, which works out to about 3½ feet in diameter. Big! The massive trunk rises up through a forest of much smaller trees. Around it are mostly small hemlocks but also some beeches and maples. The beech leaves, which stayed green much longer than the leaves on other trees, have finally turned to yellow. Many have a bit of green left at the base and tracing out along the veins amidst the yellow, while the leaf tip has already turned the same golden brown as the pine needles on the forest floor.

October 14, 2013: Fallen Leaves

Leaves in the stream, piled up at the foot of each pool, pushed there by the current. Leaves floating on the surface of the quarry pond; they swirl and churn behind me as I swim through them. The sound of leaves falling one-by-one down through the trees, to the ground or the water.

October 13, 2013: Dark Hemlocks

The hemlocks along the stream stand close and tall: 60 and 70 foot trees often just a few feet from each other. The dense, dark branches fill every space in the canopy as they search for light, so down below the air is dim and murky, especially in the early morning. The living branches on the hemlocks are high up near the tops of the trees, so while dark the forest is quite open down at my level. I can see for hundreds of feet through the closely spaced trunks shooting up to the sky, one straight line after another. With so little sun reaching down through, there are very few new trees coming up. Little grows on the forest floor other than some scattered ferns and moss. Instead what’s here is largely the dead cast-offs from above: fallen branches and trees slowly rotting away under a coating of moss, and fallen needles and leaves from the occasional yellow birch or aspen in amongst the hemlocks. A soft carpet wandering through the dark woods as the stream whispers by in the background.

October 12, 2013: Fall Grove

In a grove of maples, beeches and hemlocks tucked into a hollow in the side of the mountain the ground is thick with dry leaves: brown, yellow and red; rust and burgundy; gold, ochre and chestnut all mixed together. When I raise my eyes just a little the world is green: the nearly spring green of the beeches set against the deep, almost black green of the hemlocks. The dark hemlocks are unchanging as they rise up through the forest, but the green of the beeches slowly gives way to yellow until looking up overhead the ceiling is golden with occasional splashes of red. The tallest treetops are just catching the first light from the morning sun. A single yellow maple leaf comes spinning down from high above, brushes against a green beech leaf, and lands with a barely heard sound on the forest floor. The dark trunks of the trees go snaking up towards the sky.

October 11, 2013: A Great Slab of Rock

A massive slab of rock, tipped outward by the slow action of water flowing into a crack and freezing and expanding the crack, letting in more water and snow and ice and then sticks and leaves that turn into dirt, that all keep shifting the rock, little by little, tipping it more and more. Now the top of the slab is six feet from the cliff it broke away from and other rocks below keep it from tipping further, but leaves and sticks keep falling in the crack and slowly filling it up. Sitting in the crack, I think about this rock that has maybe moved a few feet in a thousand years while looking out at the leaves turning yellow as fall works its annual transformation on the landscape. In a few weeks the trees will be bare again. A chipmunk, following passages through the rocks and leaves, pops up a few feet from me. When he realizes I am not part of the landscape he quickly vanishes, but a few seconds later he pops back up again as if to check that his eyes had not fooled him the first time, and that there really is a person in this odd spot in the middle of the forest, partway up a rocky bit of ledge, as the sun is coming up beyond the clouds.

October 10, 2013: Sweet Birches

Standing in a grove of young sweet birch trees; yellow leaves above and below; gray trunks in parallel lines, reaching for the sun; dew falling like rain. Shaking a tree sets the trunk to vibrating like a plucked string, but at the end of the string is a cloud of yellow leaves that vibrate in response, like golden jewels shimmering in the sunlight. The shaken tree sends down a shower of dewdrops onto my upturned face, as well as a few golden leaves twirling down to the ground. I shake one tree after another to watch the leaves and feel the dewdrops falling.

October 9, 2013: Cold Fall Wind

Up on the mountain, a cold north wind is flowing through the forest, reaching right down to the ground and stirring even the ferns. The leaves overhead are in constant motion, as are the small branches and the smallest of trees, but it’s not enough wind to stir the big trees. Still, the forest is filled with the soft purring sigh of leaves in the cold fall wind. We “flirted” with frost again last night. The temperature just before sunrise was 1.5°C (35°F). Just a little bit colder and we would have had our first frost. But the sun came up through the clouds and the sky is clearing. Down in the valley near the stream there’s barely a hint of wind.

October 8, 2013:

The stream is loud this morning: a rushing brook with small cascades every few feet. The sound fills the forest long before you see the stream, where a few days ago it just burbled quietly, even when you were so close the cool water was flowing over your feet. Except under the hemlocks, the forest is feeling a little lighter in places, yesterday’s rain having brought down more leaves, especially from the maples and birches. The forest floor is carpeted in yellow and red now, but overhead it’s still gloriously colorful too under the maples, with a deep blue fall sky beyond to add to the glory. In the beech groves, except for the sky and some scattered yellow leaves blown in from elsewhere, it might still be summer. Their leaves are still a bright summery green with only a hint of dustiness that might be just their late-summer color or might be the first hints of fall’s fading. At the quarry, yesterday’s wind brought down a dead birch tree, which in turn bowed down to the water a small but living red maple. The forest is always changing, living and dying, falling and growing at every turn, season by season and day by day.

October 7, 2013:

Growing in the middle of the forest, just up from the stream bank, is a large patch of what very much looks to be giant rhubarb plants, later identified by a friend as Giant Butterbur (Petasites japonicus). The thick green stalks are so tall and the single leathery leaf at the top so large that I can easily sit down under a single leaf to find shelter from the water dripping off the trees. I feel like some small woodland creature finding shelter under a leaf, only these leaves reach up to my chest when I am standing up. The drops of water falling on the leaves make a loud “plink,” rather like the sound of water hitting a heavy tarp, but most of the leaves are filled with holes so some of the drops come right through to me underneath. The wet leaf tops shine in the early morning light and the stalks lean in all directions; some broken and fallen to the forest floor.

A few minutes later, while I was standing in the stream getting ready to take my morning dip, a large, dead branch came crashing down to the forest floor from an aspen tree, maybe 75 feet from me. There’s no wind this morning so it must just have been decay and the weight of water soaking into it that brought it down. A minute later a great horned owl started hooting nearby in the forest, as if he was as startled by the branch coming down as I was. Then silence returns, other than the steady plink of water dripping from the trees.

October 6, 2013:

Today there’s not just water falling from the trees, there’s water falling from the sky too, as a fine, soft rain. It’s not a raw November rain but it’s also not a warm summer shower; the drops of water feel cold running down my back. Listening beyond the drip, drip, drip right around me, it sounds like the whole forest is giving a soft, never-ending sigh. But maybe it’s a sigh of relief: it’s been a dry fall and some water is a good thing for the forest. Leaves are falling from the trees, brought down by the rain. The fallen leaves make golden pools of light on the dark forest floor.

October 5, 2013:

In the last 24 hours almost an inch of rain has fallen, the first rain in two weeks. Rather than climb the mountain this morning I decided to watch the day arrive sitting by the stream, listening to the water flowing down from the mountain. The drops of water falling from the trees onto the wet leaves and ground below beat an irregular, steady rhythm all around me. Hemlocks grow thickly in the stream valley and even on a bright day it’s dim under their dark canopy. This morning, in the gray early light, the black trunks of the hemlocks fade into the dim shadows around them. But mixed in with the hemlocks are some yellow birch and maples, now covered in golden leaves that glow brilliantly amidst the dark shadows of the hemlocks.

October 4, 2013:

Climbing the mountain this morning I thought I was going to a quiet sunrise: the kind where the sun just slips unnoticed above the horizon, hidden behind the clouds. When I got to my lookout I was instead greeted with a glowing orange and pink eastern sky, just above where the sun rises. This faded in a minute or two and then the sun came up: glowing magenta with streaks of gray-purple clouds running across it. Before it had even fully risen it was diving back behind the clouds but 20 minutes later was back out again, glowing a brilliant red-orange. Its light wasn’t strong enough to cast shadows or pools of light on the forest floor but it was enough to cast a golden light on some nearby clouds. Away from the light show being put on by the sun, the sky is gray this morning, but the soft cloudy ceiling overhead brings out the brilliant colors closer in: yellows and reds and still lots of greens, all set against the dark trunks of the trees. A squirrel running along a branch sends down a shower of golden leaves.

October 3, 2013:

Slowly the forest gets lighter as day approaches, going from a dusky monochromatic gray 40 minutes before sunrise to soft, cool almost-daylight. The orange glow sprawled all across the eastern horizon focuses down to a single point, just above the still hidden sun. Birds call here and there in the forest, more and more of them as the day gets lighter. All make just simple call notes: its fall and there’s no need for fancy songs now to impress possible mates. One perches just overhead and repeats the same simple note over and over again, two to three times a second, in a steady beat. Just at sunrise a woodpecker starts hammering on a nearby tree.

October 2, 2013:

A summer sunrise: the air almost warm even at dawn, and a sea of haze off to the east that does not hide the sun but dulls its brightness as it climbs into the sky over the valleys, cities and towns to the east. But the passing breezes send down new cascades of dry golden leaves and the forest floor is covered with the fallen. Each pool in the stream has a raft of leaves pushed up against the downstream end and the surface of the quarry pond develops and denser covering with each passing day. Swimming I hear them rustling around me and I leave behind a swirling, eddying trace of my path.

October 1, 2013:

A gentle breeze is blowing this morning, moving through the trees like a deer running though the woods. I can hear each small gust’s progress from tree to tree as it passes by. Looking up I can see first one tree shaken by the gust and then the next and the next: the yellow and red leaves awakened by the passing wind.

Go to September 2013