Listening for Fall

On my walk this evening I spotted a couple standing on an outcropping of rocks watching their dog play in the river.

Every now and then they would toss a stick into the water and he would bound after it, splashing through the waters of the Swannanoa with his big yellow paws. I wondered, on the first day of October as the seasons change to fall, at this time of drawing inward we humans experience, even before it’s cold enough to warrant it…A month or two ago those humans might have been swimming right along with him or lying belly up in tubes on the French Broad or Davidson River. But there was a quietness already to their voices and stance that suggested less buoyancy. The waning daylight and crisp breezes require a certain stillness to allow for deeper listening.

My ears found the rustle of turkey feet in dry leaves, a flock of them on the opposite bank of the Warren Wilson River trail. At first they held their stance, dark blotches in the still mostly green undergrowth, but slowly they began pecking along. Cows called to each other and the students who filled their trough with cold water. Quick foot steps of joggers absorbing the twilight hour swooshed along from time to time. In the distance a sweet voice cried out for her lop-earred, big-footed companion, “Baaanjo…Baaanjo! Here boy.” Some time later they were reunited and walked together then in happy silence.

There are certain days where I need the woods and feel their arms unfurling around me in the warm tones of sycamore branches and maple leaves turning red overhead. On this day I am mourning summer and welcoming fall – and lean on a poem by Mary Oliver called “Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness,” to get me through the transition: “I don’t say it’s easy, but what else will do – if the love one claims to have for the world be true?”

–Words and photos by Katie Souris

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