Autumn where I live in Alaska comes early and summer where my grandfather is dying in the midwest stays late. The dark air of the morning is cold on my neck when I walk away from my dog, my work, and the hills’ turning colors. I leave these in favor of an airplane idling on a paved corner of the valley below.
In the minutes before takeoff the land grows streaked with stretched shadows of spruce trees. It is that first light of morning, light that shoots from the horizon along the flat earth like a stone skipping on water. Numbing my forehead against the window of row nineteen, I watch this light. The flatness of the valley leaves space for dawn’s momentum.
Some drop hefty obligations midstride to board airplanes like this one but the truth is my dog doesn’t really need me. My work doesn’t either. Still, I am hopeful that the forest’s leaves will cease their turning when I leave, that without me the world will lose its purchase on autumn. I imagine my absence being dire to the birch trees, that their shift toward nakedness depends on my view of them from the porch. Leaves are always tumbling in feather pillow bursts these days. It is my practice to sit with the dog while leaves alight first here, then there. We watch the pockets of yellow flurries breathe like so many autumnal snowglobes, and I don’t know about the dog but I am always willing myself into that globe, carol book in hand. Do those soft blizzards continue to swirl in globes without carolers? Full essay here.