I was walking through soupy layers of  leaves. Kicking debris around - crunchy pods, mossy branches, conifer cones and seed cases strewn by squirrels (a hearty tribe of squirrels in my neighborhood). A chill has settled in lately, frosty mornings with low sun... if you can see the sun. Can't feel the sun much.

Step by step, breath by breath, I became quiet and receptive, like a river otter holding still on the river bank, senses heightened. I thought I heard a story.

The November landscape was chanting a story.

Creeks and lakes and rivers are filling with recent rain, changing the soundscape. The rising water is powerful and bold. Wind has become an active player again - more aggressive, more serious. Tossing, tumbling, tipping what is dry and spent and dead. The soundscape has changed.

What was alive is now in decline. There is little evidence of the life that was.

Dried and pruned fruit is matted on the ground below trees, relics from a summer of abundance. Migrations of towhees, juncos, chickadees, finches are passing on the wind, pecking and picking at the ground when they stop to refuel. Flowers are shriveled and brown but somehow beauties still, offering seeds and nubs to birds and other critters.

November whispers "It's time sisters and brothers. It's time to begin preparing for the stillness".

We've harvested and gathered in the gifts of summer, gifts from the time of blossoming and fruiting. Since Autumn Equinox we've reflected on this bounty, on the gifts of our labour, on the outward expression of our creativity, on the results of our dreaming. What didn't come to fruition, we can now acknowledge and use as rich nutrients to germinate new dreams. Soon we'll enter stillness, when all life disappears, spent and dead.

In November we reflect on the cycle of life coming to a close. Light succumbs to darkness, there is a natural flow as the big pulse of life is silenced and darkness calls.  

I continued on my walk wrapped in the mystery of decline, inhaling the fragrance of decline, and was no less in rapture than when the high sun was beating down on my shoulders and the landscape was brilliant with color.