I walk each morning with the crunch of frost on new-fallen leaves beneath my feet.
This sycamore leaf is fringed in white as the early morning sun first touches it. Within fifteen minutes (at most) it is merely wet. The colors of fall fade as the last leaves drop. The trees are now mostly bare.
Our sycamore is the last to lose its leaves. An oak, near the entrance to our driveway, is a close second. While the sycamore stays mostly green - there are a scattering of browns, too - the oak changes to a universal brown, with a leather-like texture. The oak drops its leaves all at once; the sycamore drops them in small lots, metering them out, not giving without a fight.
In the middle of the lane, where the tire tracks do not disturb the soil, weeds sprout throughout the growing season. What the mower missed, the cold nights trim. The tiny leaves curl against the cold in a last ditch effort to survive another few days. When the nights get this cold, they fail.
I suppose I enjoy my walk more now than any time of year. If the wind is not blowing, I am not cold, no matter how far down the temperature drops. I, in fact, open my coat, let the heat escape, take my fingers from my pocket and dangle them at my side, slip the hood from my head, feel the steam rise.
It is a quiet time with the fields themselves at rest. The last of the insects have been quieted: there is no clicking, no buzzing, no rhythmic drone. The business of life is secreted away, waiting.
This swale, cut a month or more ago, betrays the mower's path, now etched with white. The grass seems to remember. The heavy wheels make their impression on the earth and are carried up through the stalks to be advertised even as winter nears.
Mostly, I'm amazed at how low the sun already rides. She is far south of her summer height, casting long shadows even at midday. I walk with my stretched figure billowing behind me, a shadowy sail I carry wherever I go. It is as steady as I.