October 24th, 2011



Autumn is in slow motion. The dogwoods began changing color a couple of weeks ago, but while most of the green has gone from their leaves, there is as yet very little bright red. The nights have not yet gotten cold enough to bring any intense color to the leaves, so they are mostly a dusty, reddish brown. The oaks retain deep green crowns, but their lower branches are half naked, and the leaves that remain are mostly a dull brown, with just a few gold leaves scattered among them.

The fruitless mulberry tree, always the last to change, is almost entirely green, with only a handful of fallen yellow leaves scattered beneath it. The mild afternoon is full of chirping birds who swoop and dart and peck at the newly green lawn. Portia is watching them from the window, and seems to be in no hurry to go back outdoors. The shaft of warm sunlight in which she is basking must be more appealing than the prospect of catching a bird.

The valley has an autumn haze above it, but above the ridges the vapor has formed into swaths of thin clouds that occasionally dim the sunlight but seldom bring full shade. The afternoon breezes are too gentle to dislodge even the dead leaves, or to stir any of the leaves to more than a soft rustle that is as soothing as a cat's purr. The breezes will probably grow stronger as evening arrives, and the air will cool rapidly, but for now the afternoon is as placid as a still lake. I'll do nothing to disturb it, but merely skim across its surface like a water strider.