Raptors

Cold weather is hard on creatures who don't hibernate. Small animals and birds are burning more calories to keep warm just as their greatest sources of food—seeds and berries and insects—have disappeared, and predators are burning more calories to keep warm just as their greatest sources of food—smaller animals and birds—have grown less plentiful, too: … Continue reading Raptors

Twilight

I went to a land-grant university, a rural school that students at the rival institution dismissed as a cow college, though I was a junior before I ever saw a single cow there. For someone who had spent her childhood almost entirely outdoors, my college life was curiously manic. Every day I followed the same … Continue reading Twilight

Homesick

This week I've spent a lot of time thinking about how lost I felt in 1984, the first year I ever planned to be away from home for Thanksgiving (although it didn't actually end up being my first Thanksgiving away from home, as I explain in this essay). It's been decades since I gave any … Continue reading Homesick

Shadows

With a big deadline bearing down the first week of December, I’ve spent much of this fall sneaking up to Sewanee for long weekends at Rivendell Writers’ Colony, where I hide out from the world and write in a sunny third-floor attic studio that looks out over Lost Cove. There are window seats along two … Continue reading Shadows

Pickers

My husband and I have lived in this house for twenty-two years. Here we raised three children, buried two dogs, raked an uncountable number of falling leaves in this season of constant leaving. All but a handful of our first neighbors are gone now. They have died in their own beds, or gone off to … Continue reading Pickers

In Mist

John Keats called autumn the season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness,” but there is nothing mild about this particular mist. It came in the night on a cold wind that rattled the windows, and it lingered after the cold rains moved out this morning. It seems to mean that we will have no autumn at … Continue reading In Mist

In Darkness

Early autumn is the heyday of the orb-weaver spiders. A spider's egg sac bursts open in spring, and the infinitesimal hatchlings spend all summer growing and hiding from predators. By fall, they are large enough to emerge from their secret places and spin their marvelous webs. Every night the female makes an intricate trap for … Continue reading In Darkness