October Afternoon

Under the pines, some unusual birds were throwing needles and fallen leaves around. Through binoculars we could see the white and black racing stripes on their heads, and then, when they turned our direction, the bright white patterns on their throats. Michal said, "It looks like they're wearing clerical tabs." And we laughed.

The white-throated sparrows met us at every turn along the path--under the tall oaks and the sugar maples, and in the hedgerows. It was good to see them again.

Mid-October light suffused the late afternoon. At last we stood under the long row of plane trees. Their golden limbs soared into the bright blue sky. A breeze gathered itself in the grasses and lifted into the leaves, spreading until we heard a beautiful, gentle applause, a celebration of all the hours of springtime and summer that are coming to completion now, in the trees and birds, in the seeds and grasses, and in us, too, as we pause to give thanks before moving onward.