great fields in the distance. The tall, creamy blossoms and broad, flat leaves of late summer, now faded and furled, have turned to sunlit gold.
I arrived at the beach mid-afternoon, in a desperate attempt to hold onto the dwindling hours of a weekend—their passing even faster, now, as the time change steals an hour of light from the end each day’s due.
The night has suddenly grown long.
I dabbled here with the camera as each minute of daylight escaped me, taking image after image of summer’s remnants as they rolled in the water, forward and back. The rocking of one small piece, a walnut or osage orange, sending ring after ring of ripples to dissolve into the glassy lake.
A small dock at the bottom of a narrow, steep stair nuzzled into the bank beneath a thick stand of pine, the ground beneath them soft with needles and littered with long, pitch-spattered cones. The slant of evening sun was gentle and warm and had filled the air with the sweet and spicy piney smell. The lotus fields were brightly shining, reaching to the very shore. Oak and sycamore branches extended bright and blurry reflections across the dark water.
Several very large, brown birds lifted from the trees across the lake and, as I looked more closely, I could see hundreds still there, standing as black spots perched upon every branch, tucked into the warm wall of trees facing the strongest light. As each rose and cleared the treetops, its shape became visible—they were vultures. In great waves, they lifted and crossed the lake directly above my head, their long wings stroking strongly, the only sound, as they settled in great groups in the tall pines all around me. With each new wave to arrive, the previous would rise and resettle—the wings of the first bird to lift, noisily crashing and becoming a crescendo as another and another joined the group and swirled in a tangle of great wings overhead.
Then the sun dropped into what had become an orange horizon.
A full moon rose in the fading blue sky.
I shook the chill of a clear autumn night from my shoulders.
And the lake fell into quiet stillness.
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