There are changes taking place deep in the woods. Leaves now lay on the forest floor, sunlight can once again stream down through the branches. Crunchy now, they break down. By spring they will be breaking down further, scarcely recognizable. Eventually they will become food for the growing plants.
The smaller plants are already gone, perhaps just a stem remaining. Late summer flowers still have seed heads, the asters and goldenrod. Milkweed has burst forth from it's pod, floating off on the fall breeze. Grasses are bent, browning.
This is also the season that brings people to the woods. Hunters don their camoflauge and deer stands crop up. This cuts down on the walks that I take. Some of it is self preservation. I won't go out if there are active shooters. So down by the river, in duck season, is a place I no longer go. It is less about my safety than my guilt. I hate to flush up some ducks, and then hear shots down river. Soon, it will be deer hunters, some are already bow hunting. Again, I don't want to chase the deer from their safe spots, out into danger.
So I walk there less. But when I do I often pause and just look. Sometimes I am lucky enough to see a leaf as it leaves the tree branch. When I do I feel obligated to watch it's journey downward. They spin and spiral. Sometimes almost getting hung up on other branches, then a gust will carry them away. They land softly on the ground, their journey done. I feel blessed to have witnessed their passage.