Now the path was covered in leaves. Mostly a mottled yellow and pink but depending on the trees it might turn a rich reddish-orange almost as if someone had covered the ground with a throw rug.
Yesterday’s rain brought down a lot of the leaves. But it must be too cold for most mushrooms. We didn’t see any orange newts either.
But we did see the Barred Owl.
The afternoon sun specked the woods with bright yellow light, the shadows were a dark contrast, until I came to the part of the path that curved sharply to the left.
The woods around me had not changed, but further ahead the trees seemed to create an archway and beyond it, the forest looked like it was shrouded in a soft yellow haze.
I thought of how painters soften their colors as a way of creating perspective. All those foggy landscapes behind the portraits of wealthy patrons or mystical beings.
I wanted to be in that soft glowing place.
But I stood looking at it a while longer, not wanting to hurry. I was afraid it would be like the mist on the farm in the mornings. How it seems to dissipate when I walk into it. Yet at a distance, it’s so thick the trees are ghosts.
So I walked slowly, thinking that even if it faded as I got closer, I’d try to hold onto the feeling it evoked in me. That desire to dull my senses, to soften like the light.
When I finally did step over the threshold into that magical space I realized it was as much the yellowing ferns on the ground and the smooth gray bark of the beech trees as the light.
I walked the deer trail through the ferns that reminded me of faded paper, my gaze gentle, the muscles in my face relaxing, my footfalls purposeful.
I was in the distance, in the background of the painting. The part painted by the student of the master painter, whose name would never be known. A peaceful place to be.
But it didn’t last long. Soon I was around the bend and up the hill. That’s when the owl came again.
Fate and Zinnia were ahead of me and she flew between us across the path. She landed close enough so I could see her eyes, and the lighter markings on her feathers. Once again I said hello.
Soon she flew to a tree further away but still in sight. I watched her until she swooped down from the branch in the opposite direction and disappeared into the woods.
I’m no longer surprised to see the owl. I almost expect it. But, still, I’m delighted and curious about how she keeps showing up.