November is a favorite time of the year for me. When the leaves are down, I can see deep into the woods. Deer step gingerly over downed trees, a hundred yards or more from the cabin, yet I can still watch them. Life in the woods and my busy life around the cabin finally starts to slow down. It’s as though the bustle of the summer’s long days drops a little further away with every leaf that falls.
The forest will soon begin its winter sleep and is already settling towards that. Where just a few weeks ago a riot of green once blocked my view, now only bare trees, empty of all color except brown, is all that stands in front of me.
Sounds travel further now than they do in summer, a difference that I seem to forget every year. It’s perhaps the one difference between summer and winter where I would choose to keep summer’s silence. And even in summer, the silence isn’t complete. The rustle of the leaves in the slightest summer breeze blocks some sounds, though the leaves themselves create a constant background music. Still, in the summer the forest’s leaves act as a kind of leaf-thin barrier that over distance turns into thousands of leaves and blocks many of the sounds of modern life’s intrusions.
Although perhaps 30-40% of the leaves remain on the trees now, this is still quite a change from even a week ago. So this morning before dawn as Dog and I walked in the fog, the sound of a fire siren from more than three miles away sounded loud to me. In summer, I rarely hear the siren at all. I believe the fog and the slight breeze also combined to help enhance the sound, but still modern life suddenly seemed much closer than I like to think it really is.
Dog looked up, hearing the trucks as they headed out the road. He hates cars, trucks, bicycles, anything that moves faster than he does. He was convinced the truck was just behind us and lunged at the lead trying to go after it. In his excitement he even missed seeing four deer that tip-toed from the pond, up a bank and through a hole in the netting at the base of the ski slopes.
The sound of the fire trucks faded quickly, and quiet returned to the mountain. November is here, and with it the silence of the season returns.