While standing in the shadowed nook of the front porch, I heard rustling in the wild plum bushes at the end of the house, thirty feet away. I stepped out to where I could get a better view, thinking there might be deer. So as not to startle them, I didn't turn on my flashlight. When the deer browse in those bushes, once they are done they often leave by crossing the lawn, and this night's bright moonlight would offer me a decent view of them. As I left the shadow, the rustling stopped. Suddenly, I heard a low growl from the darkness. It was a most un-deer-like sound. I stood still, slowly raising the flashlight but not turning it on. There was another growl, deep and menacing. Before I could engage the light, there was more rustling as whatever creature had expressed its threatening disapproval of my presence went back through the dense brush and into the neighboring yard. I shone the beam of my light after it, but could see nothing, nor could I hear any sound of retreating footsteps. Somebody has soft paws. A large dog? A particularly aggressive raccoon? A wildcat? Though my light searched every visible part of the landscape, I saw nothing, not even a reflection from a pair of watching eyes, and there were no more growls. I suppose I'll never find out what it was. I'm not sure I'd want to know.
The last long evening of the year has ended, and this will be the first truncated night, with light arriving much too early, the clocks having been set back. I always think of this event as the beginning of the long slide into winter. At least this year it was delayed a bit, the last day of October being a Sunday. That means that less than two months remain before the winter solstice. Early autumn is one of my favorite times of year, but the season deteriorates rapidly in November, and I have little affection for December, at least since I came to this northern place. But snow does not yet threaten, and there may yet be some mild and pleasant (though abbreviated) days in the next few weeks. This might even turn out to be the year when the weather is mild and clear for the viewing of the autumnal meteor showers. I almost never get to see those here, because of the nights are typically cloudy. Tonight is not cloudy, though, and despite the lack of a meteor shower, there is a nice waning moon out, and the air has warmed just a bit, so I'll be spending a while outdoors. I only hope I don't get eaten by whatever creature it was that growled at me last night.