This is a short piece that I wrote several years ago, and every once in a while pull out, tweak a bit and then set aside again. It seems rather fitting right now, though ...
She enjoyed fall. It was an overly busy time, with many preparations for the coming cold winter, but Niami DenMother ("Mum" to her friends), enjoyed it nonetheless.
Maybe it was because it brought back memories of pleasant walks in the colorful woods with her mother, pumpkin pies, fresh-pressed apple cider, and fat squirrels scampering about stashing acorns. A time of collecting and gathering, of setting things to rights before winter-induced sluggishness set in.
The day had started with a wispy fog curling hither and yon amidst the trees and pastures, and the sun seemed a bit anemic. She had the time to spare today, however, and knew that if she waited for a drier day, she might not be able to complete her expedition.
So she wandered off through the woods, her footfalls muted as she walked atop the damp leaves that had already fallen from the trees. A large empty backpack was slung over her shoulders, and his blue eyes peered about intently at the trees of the Enchanted Lands.
At last she found what she was looking for -- a stand of butternut trees. Mum slid the backpack off her back, opened it, and set it on the ground. Then she crouched near it and began picking butternuts off the ground. A little over twice the size of a pecan, they were covered with a soft, fuzzy skin, and a hard, prickly shell underneath. It would take them a month or two to dry out enough for shelling and eating, and they were a real pain to crack, but she'd always found them worth the effort.
Unfortunately, Mum's muscles were telling her that she wasn't as young as she used to be, and the squatting and bending in the damp weather began to send slow aches through her back and legs. Her pack was about two-thirds full anyway, so she decided it was time to stop and stretch. She straightened up and began to walk in circles, working the kinks out of her back and legs.
Suddenly, she hit a patch of damp leaves in just the wrong way, and her large feet flew out from under her. "Aaaaaaggghhhhhh!" Niami flailed about for a moment, trying to regain her balance, and then landed heavily on her back, her breath rushing out of her in a whoosh. Several moments passed as she tried to regain her breath and to get her stunned mind to realize just how she'd ended up horizontal.
At last Niami's eyes stopped crossing and she finally managed to focus on the colorful leaves in the tree above her head. There seemed to be an odd spot in her vision, however ...
There was a sharp pain between her eyes and odd chittering noises seemed to come from the tree above her. It was a while before she could process this new attack on her befuddled self, but finally it dawned on her that she'd been hit between the eyes with a nut, and that the noises were coming from two squirrels quarreling in the tree above her.
Mum could feel the damp starting to work its way though her clothes, as she lay there trying to get up the oomph to struggle to her feet. Several twinges told her that more than her pride was going to be sore for the next several days.
She enjoyed fall. Really she did ...