This breezy moonless night the first fallen oak leaves crunch underfoot as the acorns continue to fall. As the breeze stiffens, they hail all around, filling the darkness with their clattering on rooftops and pavements, with the loudest reports from those that hit exposed cars and trucks. Many hit bare ground, of course, and these allow me to imagine how the forest sounded through the ages before there were streets and houses here. Compared to that vast reach of time, even the thousands of years when the native tribes walked this ridge seem only a moment, and the century and a half of european occupation is nothing. Ages of nature's sounds hush the present to insignificance. I will vanish into this welcoming silence. It will be as though I never existed. This is reason enough for gratitude.