I sit quietly facing the woods, harvesting the last scents and sounds of late summer. Something crashes through the underbrush below. Possibly an overweight porcupine clumsily dismounting from a tree. I creep to the edge of the brambles and squat silently hoping for a sighting. It could also be a raccoon. I have seen evidence in the form of scat (that means poop to my non-redneck readers) on the walkways and near the garage. One summer a Momma Porcupine had a den just off the back deck. Alice played a bit too closely with several of the babies and though her skin is like a Rhino’s, she managed to take a few soft quills to the her nose. It wasn’t necessarily a “therapeutic misadventure” but it was blog worthy. How the Porcupine Quills Got to New York City.
Silence returns, crickets and grasshoppers sing softly in the weeds of what was my garden. A motorcycle rumbles down the road beneath my perch, softly distant and apologetic for breaking the mood. Chickadees land on the hemlock next to me. They chime their “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee” verse and hop from branch to branch.
Oh to savor this time! To bottle the smells and the feeling of humid air on bare skin! I think having a change of seasons is key to appreciating the one you are in. For years I lived 7° above or below the equator. There was the rainy season and the not-so-rainy season. It took a body a few days to adjust to the climate. Visitors slept a lot, probably also due to the 24 hours it took just to get there. I missed the purity and crispness of a moonlit night with fresh snow.
Another long scrape through the underbrush, I can’t see the cause, but the sound says it is not random; something is moving. The dark shadows will soon be gone as the leaves will fall and the curtain will part on my forest. I wonder what the creatures think of all the tree removal? The word on the street is that firewood is scarce this year. I can’t imagine why, looking at my surroundings. Maybe there is an opportunity here for not only heat but commerce.
As my thoughts wander, the animal makes one last sign of the direction it is going. I hear it near the new clearing and know it has moved into silent mode across the freshly turned earth. That’s when my eye lit upon these berries.
I fight the blackberry canes all spring; mercilessly ripping their shoots from the ground and hacking off limbs from the hardier bushes. Regardless of how much we battle, they offer up sweet-tart nuggets every fall. I know I share them with the creatures but it seems a fair trade…