Fall feels like a relief this year. A banner proclaiming mercy en route. I’m struck with what a grand tug of war it all is, all the forces of nature battling it out for survival. The mouse wants a nest, some food, some babies, and more babies. Hawks and skunks and snakes and endless other creatures want mice. I want my house reserved for family and invited guests. The mice want in, the squirrels want in, the wasps want in, the flies have already made it in home free.
We want fields for pasture. Mother Nature prefers a wilder look. You can, she says, never have enough new trees. We want rat free shelter for the chickens, the rats disagree. We want clean hay for the cows, sheep, and pony. The groundhogs and mice burrow in, set up shop and check out the facilities. We want vegetables in the garden reserved for us. So do lots of other things. The squirrels got half the beans one afternoon. We never did figure out who had a taste for kale.
There’s a harshness to winter’s mercy. I grant you that. The woodstove will get a workout, pipes will try to freeze, but it’s a mercy nonetheless. The march of the mad forests will cease. The endless reproduction cycles of uninvited farm guests will go dormant. Those trying to nestle in with us for the coming winter will go elsewhere if we can hold out for a little bit longer. (High pitched rodent noisemakers and mouse traps are working as our current bouncers.)
Nature marches on in winter too, but not in living things. Snow and the cold aren’t willfully engaged in a battle of wits with me, they just get whipped up by swirly winds. Things that go wrong in winter are considered acts of God. They aren’t something you have to look up to figure out what you should have done to keep them from happening. This is a very consoling fact.
So proclaimeth the autumn leaves to me this year.
And if anyone’s curious, Buster has been on a time out since Saturday and is finally allowed to roam the pastures freely again. We’ll see if he’s out by lunch. More coming on Buster getting busted . . . I’ll just add that I have fantasies of late about snow up past his knees and him not wanting to go more than fifty feet from the barn.