November 19, 2021
Cold again–almost bitter–dense clouds, bits of pale blue, shafts of light that peek out, a constant cold wind. Today there was no one else on the trail, as opposed to yesterday when it seemed everyone was basking in the sun and warmth. Today is twenty degrees colder. I headed to the view, which I think has gotten as clear as it can get through the line of nearly naked trees. Thick and shiny oak leaves pave the trail, and they are slippery and treacherous when piled between the rocks. The path is hard to see with all the leaves piled up, and going off trail is much easier with the ferns all dead and downed tree trunks crisscrossing the land. I find myself hopping on a log if there’s a good long oak or hemlock that I can walk on for a bit, like a wooden walkway.
I feel so at home today in the browns and grays of late fall. Everything still feels so rich and alive, compared to how I know it will feel when true cold comes. All the leaves still have shine, even though they are leather brown. The forest floor looks like a tapestry, brocade, full of density and texture, browns, rusts, yellow, tans. The punch of a final beech tree full of orange leaves stands out amid the empty space. The air even smells alive–full of richness, must and mold, damp soil, decomposing wood. Even out through the trees, the empty trees, where I can see the hills and further the mountains, the landscape is an impressionistic quilt, sole burgundies and oranges popping in the muted brown and green.
I walk through a small valley protected from the wind. It makes me realize that the wind sounds different–there was a final rattling sound with the last leaves, but it’s almost entirely gone. The wind is quieter but somehow more threatening. Now it’s got nothing to stop it, no sturdy green leaves to slow it down. It runs rampant through the skeleton trees. Something about today feels totally right, even though it is cold and raw and has rough edges carved by this feverish, coltish winter wind.
Notes: I am walking on Munsee Lenape land. You can write me at julia.c.sforza at gmail dot com.