Friday, November 21, 2008
THE YARD IN LATE NOVEMBER
Redwing blackbirds nested in the big lilac this year. I was never quite sure exactly where the nest was located. I only knew it was there at all because of the reaction I got whenever I passed by, and they would come out to clack at me from the nearby honey locust. Now the birds are gone, and the little nest is quite exposed. I’m wondering how long, without the protection of the lilac leaves, before the winter gales off the lake bring it down. It surely wasn’t built to last. That would be a waste of energy, and Nature never does that.
Camouflaged in the faded grass between the back of the garage and the side of the porch, a female Cardinal lies, lovingly shrouded in golden leaves. There was no sign of a window strike or a predatory cat, so I think she may have died of natural causes. Cardinals are extremely pair-bonded, so somewhere there must be a bright male who will spend the winter alone. Hopefully, when spring returns he’ll find a new mate.
The increasingly cold weather has bleached the deep-hued, almost leathery leaves of the red maples, first to a fine sherry color, and now a dry tobacco brown. Then several days of high winds have sent them scurrying into the corner of the breakwall parapet for shelter. They can’t stay there; they’ll just dam up the drainage and make a mildew-y mess if left to over-winter. Soon the lawn man will come with his leaf blower and take them away for mulch.
All the patio furniture that can fit into the garage has been put away; everything left out will become an armature for snow sculptures. Eventually, wind will pile drifts up to the doorknobs, and the bedroom inside will be a little darker. Down below in the sandy soil are the sleeping eggs of crickets who sang me to sleep me all those humid summer evenings.
For now, the lake still has its voice - sometimes a roar, sometimes a murmur - but the silence of winter is coming, and one day it will be cold enough to hush every wave. But then the bustle of birds and squirrels jockeying for space at the feeder will fill my bootprints with scattered sunflower seeds, make me smile, and liven even the shortest, dreariest days.