Burnt orange leaves at my feet.
A starling's silhouette against a powder-blue sky.
I sit, spellbound, taking in the slant of the sun's rays across the green shutters and unstained cedar wood fence.
A stately black walnut tree, completely leafless, displays its underlying framework.
Within the many 'nooks' and 'forks' of its branches, a solitary, tiny nest stands out.
Made of delicate twigs and grass, I marvel at the avian architect that wove this exquisite cradle; its sole tool its beak.
My mind drifts to the little bird; where might it be at this moment?
Did it successfully rear its young? Has it reached its tropical wintering ground or still migrating en route?
My fingers crimp as I scribble these musings in my notebook.
The sun slips behind a smearing of clouds.
The mood changes in an instant.
Everything blends together.
A mess of trunks and branches indiscernible from each other.
The mighty oak beside me creaks in response to the wind.
Of all the trees, it is the only one with foliage still drooping from its branches - the dry sienna-coloured leaves refusing to relinquish their hold just yet.
Glowing yellow-orange, the sun reappears.
The world is re-illuminated.
Colours leap out rich and deep, vibrant and soul-stirring.
The beauty is breathtaking.
The sunlight - so exquisite, so palpable - stuns me into silence.
Inspiration seeps into my every pore.
Like countless artists before me, I am moved to capture the ineffable moment on paper.
I search for the words, I try to immortalize my awe.
I return my attention to my felt experience.
I briefly close my eyes to focus on sounds and scents.
I allow my senses to soak in the information.
One faint bird chirp.
Chilly air and stinging nostrils.
The musky scent of a damp, leaf-littered earth.
I open my eyes.
A black, fluffy squirrel stands out starkly.
In the sky above – a moment of magic.
As if made by the stroke of a painter's brush, a cirrus cloud fans out ever so gently, the wind slowly shaping it into a large wing. Exactly like a wing.
I look again and it has dissolved into nothingness, the tiny water droplets windswept away beyond the threshold of visual consciousness, beyond what can be detected by my human eye.
The sun slips silently beneath the horizon.
The encore: a sky stained lilac and lavender, periwinkle and pink.
The black squirrels are now harder to spot.
Three of them appear out of nowhere.
They huddle together before playfully moving on as one troupe.
A visual silence befalls with the sun's retraction.
Imbued with the awe of nature, I put away my pens and paper.
Yet again, I am changed forever.
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