Autumn Morning Stroll—and an Eagle Update

Five months ago, in mid-May, the first tender green leaves of spring unfurled in my woods. Now, in mid-October, they are falling in a blaze of exuberant color. Their reds, oranges, and yellows seem to shout defiance against winter’s encroaching darkness.

Three days ago, after the sun climbed above Shaw Mountain, illuminating my land, I headed out my cabin door to claim the gifts the morning offered.

Just outside my porch, a young maple boldly flaunted its handful of leaves. The small white flowers are pearly everlasting, drying on their stalks.


Along my driveway, the slanting light set trees aglow.


The leaves on this maple near my shore seemed almost too vivid to be real.



The still surface of the pond reflected shoreline foliage and Shaw Mountain. At higher, cooler elevations, the leaves were already past peak color—as shown by the band of rusty brown on the mountainside.


Fallen leaves become bright confetti on the forest floor.

My woods were a feast for my eyes—but they nourished my other senses too. Hay-scented ferns, turned from summer’s lush green to autumn’s gold and brown, emanated the rich sweetness for which they’re named. On the path from my cabin to the shore, I caught a pungent whiff of decaying organic matter, recycling into living soil. I couldn’t describe it as exactly pleasant, but somehow it struck me as satisfyingly tangy. And as I stood beneath my trees, savoring the colors, my ears caught the gentle pattering of drifting leaves as they came to rest on the ground.

As the woods descend into winter’s icy darkness, this morning will shine on in my heart.

A final update on the eagles’ nest:

In my last post, on September 1, I shared the news that the eaglet who hatched this spring had fledged ( On September 14, I returned to the nest tree—a tall pine on the North Inlet of First Roach Pond, about four tenths of a mile from my cabin—and walked down the hill to the shore below. When I looked up, I saw a bird soaring high above. I hurried to focus my binoculars. The bird had a dark head, and the tips of its tail feathers were brown; otherwise, its underside was mottled brown and off-white. It was the eaglet, ascending to new heights! I rejoiced as it disappeared into the distance.

I started to walk back to my cabin, pausing in the woods for a last look at the nest. I raised my binoculars to where I knew the nest should be, but I was puzzled. I couldn’t see it. All I could see were a few sticks in the pine’s upper branches. Concerned, I checked around the base of the tree. I found many sticks scattered on the ground. I noticed a couple of sticks hanging vertically in the branches of a small tree nearby; it appeared they had fallen from above. My heart sank as I realized the nest had collapsed.

I’m very glad the eaglet fledged before its home disintegrated. A longtime summer visitor told me the nest had been there for two decades or more. Over the eight years I’ve watched it, the resident eagles have raised five chicks. Will the eagles rebuild their nest next year? I hope so, but if not, I’m grateful I’ve had the privilege of witnessing their lives.

Greenville and Monson area friends: Please join me at Shaw Public Library in Greenville at 5 PM on October 27 for my multimedia presentation “Heaven Beneath Our Feet: Mindful Exploration of the Maine Woods.” I’ll talk about my adventures in the wild and share simple practices that will enhance your own experience of the natural world. Here’s a link to the Facebook event:

My book Living Every Season: A Mindful Year in the Maine Woods is available for online ordering! Take a look: It’s also for sale at several locations in Greenville, Maine: Northwoods Outfitters, the Corner Shop, and Indian Hill Trading Post. In Monson, you’ll find it at the General Store.

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