Autumn has been my favorite time of year ever since I can remember. It may be spring for some folks, but I’ll take fall. I suppose, besides the relief it offers from the summer heat, it’s partly the harvest and time of plenty thing experienced by those of us who grew up on the farm. Add the scents, sights and sounds of the season, a slice of pumpkin pie and a day in the squirrel woods, and what’s not for a country boy to love? Just another week and it will be official!
I turned my bedroom fan off in the night for the first time in months. The night was cool, and when I took the pooch out to pee at 3am, there was a spike buck lying in the front yard, within fifty feet of the house. The preseason scouters must already be making their presence known in the woods for him to change his pattern already. My guess is that he was one of the fawns raised in our yard last year and figured he was safe here. I’ve never seen a big buck do that; I guess they learn not to trust ANYONE. I had the dog drain her tank between the porch and the truck, so she wouldn’t see the little buck and raise the alarm at the “trespasser.”
I took her out again at 7, still careful to hold her back, so I could check for snakes on the porch before letting her proceed. We have both stepped over one hugging the house as we made the step down to the porch, and not seen it until I turned to close the door. So far, they’ve only been garter snakes and blacksnakes, but I look first these days, in case the next one is a copperhead. (My wife thought she’d found a baby copperhead on the porch the other day when we came back from the store, but it was a little milk snake, instead.)
As the pooch and I looked around us, there was a heavy fog, so the light was provided by a glowing wall of mist to the east, not directly by the sun. Across the lawn were scattered thousands of little sheets of white, showing where the “tube spiders” had made their funnels, now full of dew. As we passed the porch post, she insisted on stopping to sniff, so I knew a dog or a fox (Yes, I’ve seen them on our porch.) had hiked his leg on the post, even before I saw the small spot of remaining dampness at the post’s base.
After relieving herself, she didn’t want to head back to the house, as she did when the heat was oppressive. She locked her legs to resist my pull on the leash and stood braced toward the east, nose twitching and nostrils flaring, as she mined the air for scent. Even when she finally gave in to the pressure of the leash, she pulled back in order to check scents on the ground. It must have been a busy night around the house last night.
I sat in the porch swing for a few minutes before taking her inside. Normally, she wants to go inside to rejoin my wife but, this morning, she was happy to stay outside to listen and sniff. A few crows to the west were creating more noise than seemed necessary with their morning chat. Otherwise, it seemed quiet, with the barking dogs of the night now silent, and the chattering of spring’s nesting birds long gone. My wife always says that the quietness of autumn tells her that the earth is getting ready for its long nap. Besides the crows, the only other sound coming through the fog was the dripping of dew from the trees. With my eyes closed, I would have thought it was raining.
While the coolness had kept the mosquitoes at bay, it also finally started to make its effect known to my shirtless torso. As I arose from the swing, the Mighty Dachshund headed for the door, now ready to once again lie by the bed of her mistress. © 2014