22 October 2011

The Height of Fall

No season makes me happier than fall, and this fall has been an awfully fine one. This evening, it achieved perfection.

For the last two weeks, I have been enjoying the coolness in the air, the glowing reds, oranges, and yellows in the trees, and the occasional whiff of wood smoke on the wind. It's getting dark earlier, the rain is coming more often, and Halloween draws near. I love it all.

Today, I was feeling particularly fallish, so after I finished an important piece of work, which left me quite satisfied, I decided to go for a walk. The wind was blowing, but it wasn't nasty. In fact, it's been a pleasant wind all fall. It was great to look around and appreciate all the trees and plants showing off their autumnal attire.

I decided to walk up by a small stand of pine trees because I have always thought they looked perfect for a fall scene. On the outside edge of the stand, the limbs are green and full all the way to the ground, giving the place a closed-in feel, and on the inside, the limbs are dead and boney, so it's both dark and a little eerie. The floor of the small forest is carpeted with pine needles, which lend a slight touch of their perfume to the ambiance.

As I walked past, I suddenly decided to follow one of the trails inside. Concealed in the trees, I found fall everywhere. The forest stood on the edge of some grassland, which ended at a barbed-wire fence. The fence was old and the grass dry and blond. It was as if the forest were a keeper of fall. I stayed and soaked in the coziness.

While I looked out over the field, I heard something behind me. I turned my head and saw a great horned owl flapping its wings in a tree. Owls are silent fliers, so I was fortunate that the bird had hit a branch with its wing. Otherwise, I might never have had the experience that ensued. Slowly and quietly, I turned around to get a better look. On occasion it looked right at me, but it seemed unconcerned about my presence. I watched it listen to every little sound and walk carefully along the limbs as if it were testing a tub of hot water with its toes. After some time, it flew to another tree, and a few minutes later, it hooted. That brought a smile. It listened some more, bobbed its head, and remained in that tree for a while longer. Then, it hooted again and flew to another tree farther way, giving me a chance to leave without driving it from the forest.

An owl hooting at night in a dimly lit stand of pines. Surely, that is fall in its most concentrated form.

Perfection is possible in certain moments. Those moments are a mixture of hope, decisions, and the right circumstances. When they happen and you let them touch you, you realize that you are experiencing something special--the pinnacle of life. I had one of those moments tonight. Other experiences may equal it by achieving perfection in their own right, but for what it is, nothing can ever improve or top my time in that grove of pines on this fall evening.

Note: The owl in this entry's picture is not the one I saw tonight.

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