If you were basking in the slanting sun like this bullfrog at Goose Pond, yesterday afternoon was pleasantly warm, not hot. If you were a short-sleeve shirted, shivering dog-walker taking a photograph from the forest shade, though, you would have felt the nip of autumn in the air. Yesterday I wore full-length pants, a short-sleeved shirt, and a denim jacket when I walked to school in the morning, and when I returned to campus in the evening, I wore the same with both shoes and socks. Now that my sandal days are numbered, I cherish the usual summer sight of bullfrogs soaking in sunlight: presumably they too know in their bones that a long winter is this season’s Coming Attraction.

I wasn’t expecting to see bullfrogs or red efts on yesterday’s dog-walk at Goose Pond, but I’ve learned to accept anything. Dwelling as they do on the shaded, leaf-littered forest floor, red efts lead a slow-moving, chilly life, their cold-blooded bodies moving to the tempo of the temperature: slow when cold, fast when hot. I assume that red efts, like frogs, bury themselves in mud or burrow under submerged leaves before winter’s first hard freeze, but I don’t know for sure: they simply disappear with winter’s arrival and re-appear in the spring, old friends who hearken back to sunnier times. In the meantime, both frogs and efts are making the most of these in-between days, imbibing whatever food and sun they can find before settling down for winter’s long sleep.

I wasn’t looking for either frogs or efts as I walked the dog at Goose Pond yesterday; instead, I was looking for an acorn, a single acorn: just one small thing. I don’t know why I wanted to find a single acorn: this time of year, at least, the squirrels are seeking acorns in abundance. But in my scavenger’s mind I latched upon the thought–one small idea–that I’d like to photograph a single acorn prominently displayed by chance: not an acorn I’d set upon a pillow of moss, but an acorn that had fallen just so, like a found poem stumbled upon through serendipity.

And so here it is: one small thing sought after and granted, a tiny gift as perfect as Julian’s hazelnut. Soon enough some squirrel will find it, gathering it into a winter cache or gnawing its sweet hidden kernel right on the spot, ever-aware. But in the meantime, this one small thing lingers in my heart as a treasure placed purely for my enjoyment, a token from an ever-abundant Universe that every fall showers Small Things from the heavens while curious creatures (like squirrels and me) scamper and scavenge below.