Autumn dried back out, leaves paper the ground and everything makes so much noise when it moves, me included. Did something happen to my hearing in the portal? Late morning, windless, I stop in the woods behind the Tibetan temple and the wingbeats of finches thump from the canopy like an overhead heart… towhees scratch in the litter, squirrels crash through, a pair of woodpeckers knock angles into mossy bark with the precision of billiard players. When a squirrel climbs too close they mob it, flashing red caps and barred primaries.
A smoky gray cat winds up the path. It’s friendly; I find the collar snug around its neck. You leave everyone else alone, I say, and it pretends to get the joke... I’m not here to give orders.