Out of the car and up the stairs. Like a kid out of school and eager to go play, I'm inside just long enough to don my boots and some woolen layers. With camera and gathering bag slung over my shoulder, I grab a handful of chocolate chips and I'm out the door again. The air is crisp with a mostly blue sky overhead, and the smell of wood smoke is in the air. A few blocks through quiet streets and then I'm tucked under the canopy of the trees, heading downhill on dirt into the woods. The last rays of sun light up the fallen leaves like bits of stained glass on the dark path underfoot. The creek gurgles, renewed with all the recent rain. Down across the bridge and I see the huge maple, a canopy of yellow leaves just a few days ago, nearly bare now as a storm or two has come through. A bit farther along and I am out of the woods again, out in the grasses above the bay. The light is warm, golden as it comes across the blades, reflects off the turning leaves of the trees that border this open space. The sky itself is full of drama, grey-blue clouds with a blaze of sun, a hint of rain over closer to town.
I am caught up, entranced. Clambering over old driftwood I shoot photo after photo, trying to capture that light before it slips away. The high pitched whistle of eagles come lilting through the air, and I spot a small crew in the tops of the trees. Out in the bay a paddling of ducks sets off in squawking half-flight, upset by some unseen disturbance, only to settle into their float again a few moments later just a little farther off.
I am busy behind the camera, but all too soon the sun is fading, slipping behind the hills. I know if I wait much longer I will be walking back through the woods in the dark. A few more snaps and I reluctantly pull away, slipping back beneath the trees. I make a quick stop at the deer skeleton, checking the decaying process beneath the leaves, assured that no one else has found it. Then it's back along the winding pathways through the tall firs, eyes and ears alert as always. Over another bridge and steady back up the hill to the street. In minutes I'm climbing up the front stairs again, cheeks red and nose cold, but heart full. Time to make up a big pot of chili, to warm the bones on this cold autumn night.