Parades and Wallendas

It is a good morning for beginnings. In the ravine outside my open cabin window, an intermittent drizzle falls–not of rain, but of yellow leaves. Stronger breezes send a flickering shower down from the tops of trees, the leaves catching the light and twisting as they drop. In gentler drafts, a single disk might twirl to the ground. I am surprised by the unexpectedness of the morning shower, dazzled by the chips of light that loosen themselves from the topmost branches. Perhaps their stems are seared off by the heat of the sun, a hundred falling Icaruses fluttering too close to the sun. Is today a ticker tape parade ushering in the fall of autumn? Is this a trickle before the cascade?

Today, more squirrels are bounding in the trees than I’ve ever seen in these woods. I watched as one soared from a sturdier branch to a more slender twig. The branch bent heavily upon its landing, but the squirrel rode it without a bobble, arching towards the ground on its tip, clinging securely. As the branch ascended, he scrambled along the trapeze line and leaped with practiced abandon into a neighboring tree, where he raced down the trunk, his body vertical to the ground. This grace and agility in the woods are compensation for the sheer stupidity they exhibit in the middle of roads. Most squirrel mothers, I contend, instruct their young to “remember to run both ways when you cross the road.” Here, however, they are in their element, a furry Wallenda troupe needing no nets. We would all do well to plant ourselves in our best element, the place where we don’t flounder or struggle, but where we can exist fearlessly, making flying leaps that end in safe landings.

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