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Away for two weeks
in the blue ridged land of mountains
and trees,
I return to the blue sky land of grass.
There in North Carolina, walking beneath
tall
trees, on natural steps made by their roots,
I gasp and pause to gaze
at those branches where sunlight breaks through
the overstory and sets afire—orange, gold, red,
peach—leaves hanging
or twirling gently in the golden light.

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Home’s Hackberries
are still fully dressed
in green.
But that will change,
soon…
The forecast—our first hard freeze, tonight,
due to an Arctic blast
that will hover for a week—sets the agenda
for the day. There is winterizing to do:
drain the solar shower,
store the solar panel;
prepare the hermitage for winter’s
first guest;
find the heated water bowls
and place them for the animals.
As I go about these tasks,
I savor the 75-degree day
and prepare myself—
for the change in temperature
will set the rhythm of our lives.

Later, sitting with a friend
on the porch,
at that two-light moment—
twilight,
the time when the two lights,
sun and moon, merge
or, this day, exchange—
we face north,
toward the change to come.
Chickadees and Sparrows
supper quietly on birdseed set out for them
under the Hackberry. With gladness,
we speak of the beauty
of this warm evening
and marvel
at the prospect of a frigid morning; that life
could change so abruptly. It’s not that we don’t
believe it,
we’re just marveling. Though darkness
has come, we linger here on the porch,
in the light pouring on us through the dining room window.
Not five minutes after we speak of the warm night,
the radical change to come,
we smell cool,
and feel
the slightest stirring of cool air. Could this be it,
we wonder; that, just as we are speaking of transition,
here it is?! A wind chime suddenly sings
and we look at each other,
smiling, without uttering a word: we are here, and aware,
the very moment the wind shifts. Now
comes a cool breeze that continues
to build. In moments, we are chilled
and hustle indoors.
The temperature has dropped 10 degrees
in a matter of moments.

28 degrees
by morning light.
There’s nothing
like being home.