For the past week, Orion the Hunter and his faithful dog Sirius have returned to the southern sky during the predawn hours. Their appearance heralds the culling season, when a deepening chill engulfs the landscape and predators gain the advantage. By mid winter, Orion and his companion will dominate the long, frigid nights and our survival skills will be tested.
For now, Orion shines from the mild morning darkness, lying in wait above the colorful fields and woodlands. We still have at least six weeks of glorious weather before winter takes control; the painted forest has yet to peak, waterfowl are just beginning to fill our wetlands and a new generation of wildlife has yet to experience the frost of autumn.
But the tide has turned and summer is slowly retreating to the south. The days are noticeably shorter, the evening chill comes earlier and hunters sense that their season is at hand. Nature's cycle is nearly complete.