The front’s been moving through for hours. The wind wailed and the windows shook all night long, and looking out the slider this morning I can see it’s still blowing, empty branches swinging, dark clouds scudding fast out of the west. November, and something has clicked over, moved across a line of demarcation.
Yesterday we went for a long walk, thinking it would be the last of 60-degree weather for a good long while. It was dark, under the trees, and rain kept coming in fits and starts, leaving mist in the intervals. The squirrels darting across the path and up and down the tree trunks didn’t care, neither the ducks turning slow circles in the backwater of the river. There were so many birds chirping and trilling in the brushy open under the power lines that I felt like we were in a jungle, or an aviary. Every time I hear a riot of birds I can’t help but think of the people of Guam. The songbirds there have all been eaten by tree-climbing snakes, brought to the island in the holds of ships. There are no longer any birds singing on Guam – not one. I can’t imagine, how sad that would be.
Standing on a fallen tree that lay across the path, I saw the script of beetles – emerald ash borers – cut into its bare wood. An invader of our own had brought down this huge ash tree. It led me to think of the strange and somewhat scary-looking wasp we saw on a camping trip once. It turned out to be a Giant Ichneumon wasp, which uses a long, whip-like appendage to bore through tree bark and lay its parasitic eggs on the beetle larvae inside.
“We’ve seen some crazy bugs,” I said, and then we remembered the Phantom Crane fly we saw on another hike, floating above the trail like a jellyfish in an ocean of air. At the time, we couldn’t imagine what it was, gliding along like a transparent hovercraft. It seemed a creature from another world.
We stayed out longer than usual yesterday, the air being so mild. Walking around in the dimness of the woods, we surprised a couple of deer and saw their white tails retreating. Seed pods hanging from a shrub along the path looked like tiny lanterns; when I picked one up from the ground, it rattled like a maraca. The leaves are mostly down now, but their colors were spread upon the ground and here and there mixed in with the fading and the dying there was the fresh green of garlic mustard or a tuft of grass. Fall berries – bittersweet orange, plum purple – hung over the path, adorned with crystal raindrops.
There’s always so much to see outdoors that once I get started walking, I want to keep going. I wish then that I was on a backpacking trip, or that walking tour in the British Isles that’s on my bucket list.
But then again, adventure doesn’t have to be large, written in capital letters with exclamation points. There’s plenty of adventure spread around, all over the place if you can just slow down and see it, let it find you, settle on you like a misty rain, sing out to you like a chorus of birds, rhapsodizing before winter.