Autumn is here, but there is an uncertainty to it. The winter geese arrived some weeks ago. The rowan berries, early and abundant as they were, have almost gone. The Virginia vine is yet to turn the crimson red that heralds the equinox and the shifting of the families of sparrows who slumber amongst it gnarled branches in the summer months. From my bedroom window, I watch fat rabbits midnight feasting on the narrow strip of greenery that separates the village from the harbour grounds. My shadow disturbs them, they look up to the window but appear content that I am no threat or danger and return to their feasting. A neighbourhood cat, green eyes reflecting back the low orange light from the harbour, observes them from a boundary wall. Watching, waiting, watching, waiting.
The winter geese keep time for us, rising early from their nests in search of food and returning with the dusk. We slip easily into their rhythms. The man rises with them and heads to the forests and the hills returning home to settle for the evening as the geese announce that they too are making their way home. We lock the doors as they call their last post signalling that the final inspection is done and all are safe and secure for the night.
When the vine does turn to crimson we will know that the long dark days are finally upon us. The man will rise later and there will be days when the forests and the mountains are beyond his reach. The winter geese will not stray far from their nesting grounds, conserving their energy and the muscle and fat they have built and stored over the days of long light in preparation for what is to come. For when the ground stands hard as iron and water like a stone the rabbits will no longer feast at midnight and every shadow will be a symbol of what may come to pass.
And, when the wind blows, the neighbourhood cat will pounce. He the hunter of the night and we, who would feast by moonlight, his prey.