First ice on the water, dark as the water itself. It appears only in the deeper parts of the pond, still not thick enough to hold much more than a fallen leaf, one that has stuck to the tree well into autumn.
It will not last long, the ice I mean. The sun will have it. Presently it is still fighting a few clouds on the eastern horizon. Only a few minutes ago it flashed its deep pink—almost a red-hot glow really—upon the clouds. The sun likes to announce its arrival; it often uses clouds to do that; maybe an irony of sorts. The rage of color has since settled down to a few streaks of light and dark grays, with only a hint of pink—the clouds don’t like being used for such a purpose; their purpose is to darken.
You know first by the bubbles in the water, then of course the ripples across the surface, small waves lapping onto the thin slice of ice. But there is more to tell of the invasion of these otherwise quiet waters—the trees have the story.
You would think trees do not have enemies. For even old dead trees can be seen in the woods, plenty of them, branches long ago fallen, no leaves, though it be in the middle of summer. Still they stand, nor does the wind take them down. Such old trees are a godsend to woodpeckers, as they stomp about opening up holes where they will come again to find what is stored there.
I have no understanding why a hawk would perch upon such trees, yet they do; I have seen them. Perhaps they are merely resting and not hunting, as surely they would be seen with their naked gaze to all that moves.
These old trees are not what I am referring to.
Fire is a mad killer of trees, but there has been no fire here. And it would be easy to understand should it be the axe, or saw; that scar would be obvious, maybe no less acceptable, like many things that are the way of men. No, this is much more, an intentional killer of living trees, killing them long before they are dead. Yes, an odd thing to happen to a tree.
What is even worse than the killing, is the way of death. Trees chopped or sawn, or burnt by fire, go their way quickly; one moment that are there standing tall, some for decades beyond the brief existence of mortals or beast, and then they are gone. But the trees I am referring to announce their death to come. You might not readily see it in a thick stand of trees, as they still appear to stand tall, and if it be summer their leaves would still shimmer in the sunlight and rustle with the breeze. However in the stark bareness of autumn it is all too clear. A foot or so above the ground a ring of gorging teeth has left its mark; the tree sits like a spin top on its own base. Day after day its supply of water becomes less and less, balance now an act a man on a high wire might well admire. And then it tumbles
They slap the water with delight for what they have done, little water rascals, experts at damns and wooden houses, at swimming under ice, at doing in the night what should be left to ghouls and the like.