THE FOX SLIPS AWAY silent as silver, a fur line between clearing and forest. I only see him at all because I have bent over to pick up several fallen pine cones from the lawn. I place four of the perfect iconic representations of a season moving from summer to fall along the driveway to retrieve on my return from the gate and toss two others, squirrel-chewed, into the brush.

How many thousands of times have I walked the path from house to gate? Some days it seems like everything about it is different in myriad significant ways. Maybe I am the altered one. Other days I think I will scream if I walk this boring, never-changing path one more time. Funny, no?

It doesn’t matter. It is my path. I breathe it in, breathe it out, and we are permeable one with another.

Leaf color surprise in late August at Longleaf, near Pensacola, Florida.
Leaf color surprise in late August at Longleaf, near Pensacola, Florida.

Buck and our friend Harold have planted food plots for whitetail deer on this land each October for 28 seasons. This year they will not. They decided together that they will not. Their season of walking the fire lines before dawn, rifle slung over a shoulder, has ended. Men have a way of speaking to each other through their silences that moves me. They are more innocent than women, and mourn change in different ways. Once that was settled, they agreed they would plant the clearing around the house in wheat and rye for me so I could watch the does and yearlings browse all winter long.

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