Friday, October 30, 2009

Hilary's woods

I brought back a half-peck of Macoun apples and two medium-size pumpkins from Brackett's Orchard; also a half-gallon of apple cider and half of a pumpkin bundt cake—a big brown cee in tin foil—from my friend Hilary, woods trustee and conservationist. And a walking stick from Hilary's woodpile, with orange surveyor's tape wrapped around it.  I had been visiting her in southern Maine these past two days, a kind of pilgrimage to come up to her woods as I have in the past, though usually in summer to stalk hermit thrushes in the green canopy or listen at night for barred owls.

This was a much quieter time. As we walked in the woods the sounds were mainly our boots through the leaves, with the occasional yank of a nuthatch or startle of a chipmunk. This was well past the last of summer, supposedly, but no one told the green looper worm hovering in mid-air on an invisible thread as if it were still July. Summer can hold out as long as there's one last looper to hold on to it. October was still the predominant tunesmith, the Paul McCartney of the amber beech leaves and the red splotches on fallen yellow maple leaves, sometimes making Halloween prints and Jack Frost art with a waving ghost or a mugging jack o'lantern. But a Lennonesque somberness lived in the oak brown and the November chill.

Brown was also back in Hilary's house, in the savory bean and carrot stew for lunch, the sweet pumpkin cake, the apple cider and ginger snaps. Brown is nourishing. Brown is coming.

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