The geese are gone. They gathered
their young ones and off they went,
honking with joy, their strong wings
lifting them in their great V formations,
heading south. But this place
still bears the feel of their presence.
We leave our imprints on all that we touch.
And standing here on the pond’s edge
among the bleached reeds, I smile,
remembering spring’s fuzzy ducklings,
marveling at the way they grew
into elegance in a few short months,
like the swan in the fairy tale. A crow
calls from a tree across the water.
“Hear! Hear!” he says. “Yes,”
I whisper to him. “I do,” as the sound
of honking silently rises from the pond.
This is one of my favorite parts,
this walking through fallen leaves.
The flutter of them, the rustle,
the smell, the crazy quilt of color.
I like how they nestle into the earth,
offering her their bodies. I see
how the earth sends up wintergreen
to show them what they are feeding.
Here, in one patch, the whole cycle
of life is on display, the end giving rise
to the beginning and all the time
rustling with joy.
Twenty years from now, they say,
we won’t need cars. No one
will travel or need to, because
everything will be virtual.
I look at the oak leaves,
pondering the idea that I
may be among the last
of this round of humans
to experience actual nature.
And so I walk and gaze
with deepened reverence,
and more than a touch
of sorrow, watching
On the shore of the lake, the holly
stands, tall and bright, beneath
the great pines. Like them,
she holds her green all winter.
She is crooning softly, a lullaby for
all the forest’s sleeping creatures.
The sound of her song is high and clear.
It sparkles like tiny stars and descends
like snowflakes into the dreams
of the sleeping ones, assuring them
that all is well, that the ancient ones
stand watch, that squirrels and elves
and fairies still scamper across
the forest floor preparing wonders.
On any given tree, there are those who,
like race horses chomping at the bit to run,
are filled with eagerness to soar the instant
they are granted their colored flying suits.
Others wait for just the right blue of sky,
the perfect pitch of the wind, and they fly
in great flocks, like the blackbirds fly
over the fields of harvested corn. But a few
hold on until the last, gathering in one more
glimpse of the forest, of the earth, of sky,
as long as they are able. I would be one of these,
savoring it all, storing it in my heart, glad
for every earth-moment I could live, returning
home filled with treasures and joy.
The trail, as I mentioned, hinted
at a promise. I supposed that meant
I would not be disappointed if I chose
to follow where it led. But little
did I dream what I would find:
the stunning beauty of an elm,
magnificently singing its Gloria
in tones of brilliant autumn orange.
Listen. When you hear a hint
of promise, always dare to follow
The trail is russet with oaks.
It surprises me; I had expected
a leafless canopy, drab as the day.
But it glows and beckons me
to wander its length, a hint
of promise in its call. I walk,
wrapped in singing amber,
inhaling the fragrance, my spirit
floating on wonder, whispering
They don’t settle down right away.
Like children tucked into bed
after an exciting day, the trees
take some time to sink into silence.
First, they must whisper stories
to each other, to giggle and tease.
They must wiggle a bit and ease
themselves into just the right
position before the winter dreams
will come, floating in like clouds
on a snowy evening. But then,
what silence! And beneath it,
what stupendous dreams they dream.
It’s up to the oaks and the sky now.
The yellows and crimsons have fallen
to the ground. The sky practiced
its charcoal and smoke most of the day,
but for one magic moment when it let
the sun peak through to paint
another batch of incoming clouds
and illuminate the northern hills.
Watch for these moments, precious
and few. Let them kindle within you
the fire that burns with color and light
regardless of the cold.
Surrender any notions of your own.
Instead, trust in the joyfulness of the Yes
unerringly to lead you. When it whispers,
be willing to follow its nudges, turning
when it says to turn, continuing on
when it says to go straight. Do not worry
that you have lost your way. That which
leads you to its treasures will also see you