Early mornings are dark and quiet in November. I put on my boots, coat, and hat to walk out with a bucket of kitchen scraps in hand. I pause to appreciate mist rising from the pond and autumn’s complex scents. Some mornings I chat quietly with birds and trees as I head back to the barn. Other mornings I sing.
This particular morning I’m wearing a heavier coat against the cold, an orange hat in deference to hunting season, and carrying a bigger pail than usual. As I walk I notice a muted squeaking sound. Immediately, I imagine it coming from some small creature. I picture its dark desperate eyes. Maybe it is trapped or injured.
I slow and the squeaks become harder to hear.
I stop. The squeaks stop too.
Poor wary little thing, I must be close.
I walk slowly toward tall grasses lining the creek. A few desperate squeaks can be heard. I pause, hoping intuition might tell me where this little animal is hiding. There’s probably nothing I can do, but if it’s trapped I can free it. If it’s injured I might be able to move it to a place safer than the side of a flood-prone creek.
I stand still, listening.
Okay, I say to myself. It’s your imagination.
I head back toward the barn.
The squeaking starts up again, rhythmic and desperate.
Logic is late to this adventure, but it finally clicks in. I’m carrying a large bucket, one we left out on the cold porch overnight. The squeaking noise I hear is the handle rubbing against the sides. I stop to confirm. The squeaking stops. I feel silly. I also feel, against all reason, enormously relieved for the creature I’d imagined in distress.
I take a deep breath and continue on toward the barn, ever more grateful for the peace of the day.
I hope your morning is less emotionally fraught.