When I stepped outside this morning, it was chilly and damp, the sky thick with clouds and a feeling of rain in the air. Yet when I walked around the cottage and glanced at the sky, a barely waning Harvest Moon was just setting into the trees…and for a moment I thought the predicted rain might not materialize.
The river was quite in the dim light, even in the riffle—though maybe I'm so used to its murmur that I failed to hear it whispering over the rocks. Fog hung above the pools and swirled in the shadows. The bankside vegetation still looked mostly green, though now with a yellowish cast, as if summer's dose of chlorophyll in leaves and stems had finally gotten the message to cease and desist, and allow autumn to don its own warm hues.
From upstream came the honking of approaching geese—not migratory birds, but rather a few of the Canadas who often spend the night on one of the nearby ponds. The big birds passed directly overhead…and as I watched them cleave the air just above the tall sycamores, I noticed the sky had again been hidden behind a mottled scrim of clouds and fog.
I'd intended on making a foray afield to check on the seasonal progress and do a bit of photography at several locations a short drive from the cottage. The soft, flat light of such a day is especially good for photographing autumn leaf color, though I realize that may sound counterintuitive. Here along the river, there are practically no reds at the moment—not even on the usually blazing sumac or Virginia creeper; their leaves are either still green, or else sport various shades of yellow and orange.
I had to look long and hard to find anything red—and even those few I located were muted and not anything to compare with a showy swamp maple. Frankly, I'm not sure if it's just a slow season hereabouts for the bright colors to materialize with their knockout hues, or if if it's simply going to turn into one of those ho-hum years in which the show fizzles before it really begins. Only time will tell…
I was watching a handful of brown boxelder leaves drift slowly downstream when the first of the rain began. A drip here, a patter or two there, then a cold wet drop on the end of my nose. The thought of a cheery hearthfire sounded like a fine alternative for waiting out the morning and seeing what options the afternoon might deliver.
You can't hurry autumn any more than you can spring. The leaves will turn in their own time, just as the violets ignore all our advice and pleading as to when to bloom. Mankind, for all his bluster and meddling, has yet to tell a goose that it's time to head south, or a swamp maple that now's the moment to put on its bright scarlet cloak. The hummingbirds are long gone without our council. The groundhog has prepared his winter den and is busily fattening up for the season of cold he knows in his bones will soon enough arrive…and never once though of confirming this notion with anyone.
I like that. It gives me great comfort to know I'm not in charge—but merely allowed to stand and look…and marvel at all I witness.