Tuesday, September 22, 2020

At the equinox

This ill-starred year grinds towards its end but still has ample time to accumulate additional misfortunes. My body remains on summer schedule, attuned to neither the clock nor the sun. I lie in the dark and wait for signs of daylight, then rise and perform the little rituals of waking up the house. I draw curtains open, put water on to boil, make breakfast. Outside I've already pulled up the tomatoes and summer squash, and the okra is bearing more slowly as the daylight dwindles and temperatures begin to drop. I wrap up the butternut squash fruits in pillow-cases at night to keep the deer from eating them before they're ready to cut off the vine. The resident hummingbirds still buzz around their feeder, but the swallowtail butterflies that feasted on our zinnias all summer have moved on.

Gardening plans, early morning walks, things not accomplished, will have to be deferred. There's a sense, in general, of being balanced on the cusp — but of what? Winter's grim days and long nights can't be avoided, and spring now seems very far away.

One late afternoon I came across a barred owl at the edge of a wood. I wasn't looking for it, nor it for me. It settled on a branch and looked me over, but not so intently that it couldn't be distracted by a hawk calling in the distance. Somehow it will probably make its way through the winter. I'll keep an eye out for it next year.

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