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  • There's a restless unease just outside the door, pent-up energy colliding with the unraveling of something.

    Just before. Just after. Not yet. Almost.

    Autumn is throwing itself against summer the way my brothers used to tussle on the living room floor at the beginning of the school year, and no one seems to have the upper hand--this minute summer slides its heat and languid drone of insects deep into the heart of things; that minute fall stings and bites and burns gold and scarlet into green and glazes the morning air with ice.

    But there's more.

    The wildlife has gone berserk. Not in the spring equinox survival-of-the-species-let's-get-it-on frenzy, but in the fall equinox survival-of-the-fittest-every-bird-rodent-canine-feline-prey-predator-for-itself desperation.

    No one is where they are supposed to be. Everyone occupies other ground. This leads to encounters strange and unexpected and sudden. Sometimes lethal.

    Chipmunks, frantically putting away food for the long winter, streak across the road with nut-bulging cheeks--bam--to be cut down by the relentless wave of human machine. Splat-flat. The road to town is mapped by their small bodies and the clean-up crew of fat buzzards and sleek ravens.

    Owls call one another out in daylight--no time to sleep, no time to sleep. Toads and frogs hop hop around turtles plodding to the pond's mud blanket. Low-flying geese startle deer. Coyotes scream wild tales to baying dogs, and domestic felines act out bobcat dreams. The last hummingbirds buzz specks of bright paint, monarch butterflies fly up to kiss the rooftop, woodpeckers bang their heads against the house. Wasps buzz between window and screen; mice tumble down the chimney and into the deaf cat's mouth; spiders run round and round the sinks.

    This could be a folktale. A parable.

    And out in the orchard a Wild West showdown: migrating hawk and resident squirrel square off in a staring match, a puffery of feather and fur, one looking for dinner, one looking not to be dinner. They could be siblings. My brothers.

    Bluff and bluster. Hunger and fear. Raw and real.
    Autumn rankles and riots as summer rises from the mat once again.

    Finally off flaps hawk, and triumphant, for the moment, squirrel find its chatter and lopes off to find another nut.
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