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  • Writer's pictureJean Linville

Quiet Time & Collections

I was caught off guard the other day by the sudden quietness. I had headed outside, hoping to find a few late season tasks to keep me in the yard for a bit. Time spent with my hands in the soil and amongst the plants and little critters is more precious everyday as our little corner of the world tilts further and further away from the sun. As I set about to begin work, it was clear that something was missing. Where was all the chatter that normally surrounded me? The soft buzz of insects and hummingbird wings along with the trilling of blackbirds and the plopping of turtles sliding back into the lake, they were all gone. Had the strong October winds that had cleared the linden and maples of all of their leaves and seeds also swept away all of the summer's sounds? I stopped moving and listened as carefully as I could. It was a quietness that I hadn't heard in months and it signaled that the "quiet season" had begun. In the spring, I am delighted when the quiet of winter is broken by the arrival of Mallards, Orioles, Red-winged Blackbirds, spring peepers and even the soft munching of my nemesis, the woodchuck. The transition from winter to spring is a visual and auditory delight, but now it seemed that nature had hit the rewind button. Just as they had arrived, seemingly overnight, now the insects and birds had departed. Mergansers and dragonflies no longer to be found and the trees once again reduced to their essence of trunks and branches. Fullness and bounty replaced by sparseness and quiet. As I contemplated the speed with which all of these changes seemed to have happened, a soft noise rose from the lake cloaked in the misty fog. A visiting American Wigeon calling to its mate, perhaps now fueled up and ready to resume their flight.

​​I took their lead and turned my attention back to a few remaining tasks, thankful for their company and that of a few industrious chipmunks and squirrels. As I emptied the bird baths, made a small repair on a storage shed and tucked away a few planters that were no longer being put to use, I made a few discoveries. Tucked under one of the upturned planters was an impressive stash of seeds and acorns, gathered and collected into a hidden corner for use in the coming lean months. Surprisingly, this discovery delighted me as much as the arrival of the first skunk cabbage of spring. Why?, I pondered. Most folks were lamenting the end of the growing season, but I found I wasn't. In fact, like a chipmunk, I was preparing for the coming cold weeks with zeal.

I too am collecting seeds from our yard with the forward look to next spring, but mostly I am busy collecting a pile of books. My seeding, planting and weeding body is looking forward to sinking into a comfortable chair with a hot cup of tea and a stack of books piled nearby for company. I am ready for a season of quietness. With each passing day the tasks in the yard that need to be completed continue to diminish and I have more time to appreciate the colors, sounds and hidden treasures that are emerging. Already I have rejoiced in the brilliant yellows and oranges of rain-soaked leaves stuck to a window, the rhythmic sound of flapping geese wings overhead and discovering a nest, that until just recently was hidden completely from view. A little bounce re-enters my step as I think warmly of spending time with my collection of books and seeds and enjoying the beauty of the emerging season. Even though I am missing the rich sounds of summer, there is still much to hear. My collection is hopefully, like the chipmunk's, enough to see me through the winter, but one thing is certain, spring will round the corner sooner than I expect.

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