Late October in Ohio

A morose wind blows low grey clouds and spray and leaves. The wet sidewalks have the twigs of autumn, the sinuous wands from the walnuts with a gallant leaf sprouted from the tip–like a yellow feather; the bumpy-green Osage oranges and rotting black walnuts have rolled to the edge of the path, the countless acorns accumulate in the cracks in various stages of disrepair.

The cold rain on the fresh-fallen leaves makes them fragrant, as if the world were making tea–a sylvan tea. Bluebirds with harsh cries leave the lawn for the lower branches, then climb out of the foliage to the bare upper branches where already it is winter. The geese are back, and the coats of deer are grey and shaggy.

The maples are still in their glory: black boughs, bright leaves, and under them each a strewn carpet of tumbled splendor. Bright the pines too, having molted, and the boles of trees are all moss; in the shallow hollows of the lawns mushrooms arise in little companies, bent on evil.

The rain pauses, the clouds rush higher, then darken in the southwest and loom, making the dark puddles tremble. I have noticed how the darkness keeps coming earlier. At this rate, next June should give us uninterrupted darkness.

* * *
I read Tolkien as I go about, walking on my breaks. I read Howe at night and TS Eliot’s letters in bed. We keep the windows open and add a woolen blanket. We listen to the ticking of the baseboard heater, and to the diminishing sounds of crickets outside. It hasn’t frozen yet.


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