The evening slips swiftly to darkness and a silent V of geese flying southward divide the sky into gradients of vanishing light.
I pause from the labor of mulching the vacant garden, watching the geese disappear just as I watched them arrive seven months ago. It’s time — the last of the oak leaves are swirling down to drift on the still lake and there’s snow in the forecast.
It doesn’t feel that long ago that the geese arrived, their incessant honking an orchestra demanding spring. They made their nests, hatched eggs, and raised young here — a whole new generation of birds now winging across the autumn sky. Summer never seems long enough for all the things I want to accomplish, but now standing under a sky fast fading to night, I find I am nearly ready for winter.
The geese gone, I return to my work, burying straw and leaves under tired soil and pulling free the last of the tomato vines. This year was a fruitful one, and my cupboards and freezer are filled with food I grew or foraged. Inside the house, a pie brimming with wild apples and cranberries steams on the countertop. Now it is time for the soil to rest, the fresh organic material breaking down over months under snow.
Even as I turn the last shovelful of dirt, a few beads of sleet fall from a sky torn between clouds and emerging stars. Perhaps the sleet will turn to snow in the next few weeks, and my garden will be buried under sheets of white. Next year when the snow melts and the geese are in the sky again, this earth will be new and ready for growing.
The last of daylight disappears like a magician pulling a sheet from the world, and a half moon hangs in the sky, open end tipped downward as if it is spilling snow toward earth. I put away the garden tools and head inside.