Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you. Especially this year. It’s been unbearable without you. Things are changing and I worry.
Your arrivals have been a little later, departures too soon.
I know you have a lot to do and you’re falling behind, but will I see you again?
When you are here things are so much better. Everything changes. I wait for you.
In September I get anxious. In October I get ready. In November and December, I count on you. I celebrate your arrival and I ask you without demand, do what you do, please.
Change the color of leaves and make them fall to the ground begging for mercy.
Put away the incessant sunshine of summer. Gray skies. I want your gray skies.
Give me a chill, a big chill. Slap me with a polar vortex and make me shiver.
Make cheeks red, noses run, toes a little numb.
Remind me of what keeps us alive and tease me with threats.
I dare you, cut me. Pierce me with sharp winds. Remind me of the reasons I own sweaters of wool, buckskin mittens lined with fleece, and pack boots.
Push the masses indoors. Let them hibernate.
Show them frost. Crystalline frost. Dust the woods white. Show me snow.
Fill my senses with winter sounds, silence, and wood smoke.
Fill my woods with robins, flickers, and waxwings. Let them rest and feed.
Bring the juncos to the yard. Let them stay as long as they want, as long as they need.
And as the pileated laughs crazy, turn the dirt to concrete, and when the ducks are fat and ready, turn the water into rock.
Leave the fields, woods, and marshes to the flock of St. Hubertus.
Give them the altar they need. Let them pray.
Let them hear the grunt of rutting bucks and see scrapes and rubs.
Let them see tracks in the snow; feathers, fur, specks of red.
Allow them to know the sentiments of geese as they give voice to the stars at night.
Make them nostalgic remembering when. Remembering why.
Make them find the old stories to read again and again.
Inspire them. Make them think. Make them cry.
In January you’ll get bored. So much work to do, territory to cover.
I can see it’s getting harder. Rogues at work limiting your reach.
Some still feel your wrath, but not so many anymore. Slowly, the rogues are winning.
In February I’ll get a little bored too.
Ready for you to leave, and I know you will.
Time to move on to tend a little longer what remains, and I’ll start looking forward.
Trying to embrace what is coming for as long as I can.
And as the firewall of March fades, I’ll think of you as I heal the scars of your work.
Enjoying the renewal, but still wanting to chase you, and I will. Too little to catch up but close enough to see your retreating shadow near a trout stream north.
And in April I’ll hear stories about you. What you did. What you didn’t do.
And those who know you better than I will speak your name in vain, and with praise.
They’ll curse your failures but give approval to your character.
You have come, given what you can, and they know you are leaving.
Only to return again and again, hopefully, please.