Well, autumn has tip-toed in, slowly creeping up on us until we were left with no choice but to wave goodbye to the bright buoyancy of summer. The days are marked by the familiar cool crispness that makes you long for simpler bygone days, and the chilly nights draw you in toward the cozy warmth of home.
Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about the fall. It’s a time of unparalleled beauty here in New England as the trees hum with the vibrancy of the season, steadily rising into a crescendo of golden and scarlet splendor. And yet, the days grow shorter, darker and a sweet and haunting melancholy settles in with the amber autumn sun.
I have been trying my best to reap the rewards of my summertime efforts out in the garden. The tomatoes are being canned, vegetables blanched and frozen, potatoes dug and stored, beans dried and shucked, herbs dried, and so forth. It’s a time to plan ahead and make sure the nest is prepared for the coming winter.
No doubt, the non-human animals are preparing as well. I can tell you that we have released the skunks and the fox at Medicine Mammals (the wildlife rehab facility that I volunteer at), so that they will have ample opportunity to forage and find dens before Father Winter rolls back in.
I have seen the fox dancing through the tall grass, casually scratching his chin while sitting in a hollow, and scampering playfully as the golden sun shines warm on his thick, soft fur. I see the joy he feels at being free and wild, and nothing has ever seemed so beautiful and so right.
One of the things that’s really hard for me during The Dark Months is how much less time I get to spend outside. Like the fox, I long to be wild. Like the bears, I long to hibernate. I wonder, what animal wisdom can I take with me as I face the winter ahead? And what wisdom can I gather during these brilliant weeks of fall?