On the town forest trails, I spy two deer. Across the fallen leaves, now brown and dry, we eye each other. If I hadn’t seen a flicker of white tail, I would have kept running. But I have seen them, and so I determine to wait. I’m in shorts and a t-shirt; it’s so freakishly warm for November that people seem to be in a tizzy of utter delight tinged with dawning horror that this climate change thing, it’s really moving along. Nonetheless, these days are sweet.
The deer nearer me turns her? his? head just over one shoulder, checking in perhaps with the companion. Then they turn together and run. At the top of the hill, white tails bouncing, the creatures stop and look back at me, perhaps in nothing but curiosity. They vanish into the woods.
This is a November when I let the fire extinguish in the woodstove, hang the laundry outside, open the windows and make my cats happy. I chop apples into halves and quarters and eighths and throw the pieces into muffin batter, as if the world can measured and understood by rudimentary math, by counting two eggs and a quarter-cup of milk. In the afternoon, I abandon my thoughtful list of chores and lie in the weeds behind our house, reading Maggie O’Farrell, journeying imaginatively back in time to a Duchess’s life. It’s the same question that’s mesmerized me for years: how much of our lives do we determine and how much is dumb fate?
In the sunlight, I sleep and then wake breathing the complex scents of warm, humusy soil and spicy green leaves, and around all the dry crumbles of what this year’s frost has already bitten. In the cemetery behind my house, a man and a boy fly red kites, the long tails fluttering like ribbons.