In the first paragraph of "The Cop and the Anthem," we're given a number of clues that winter is approaching and that Soapy will soon need to find a warm place to rest his weary bones. Birds are flying south, migrating to sunnier climes. Women who want nice warm coats have started becoming very nice to their husbands, presumably because they're hoping that they'll buy them new coats for Christmas.
For Soapy, these are all surefire indications that winter's on its way. To add to his growing sense of foreboding, a single, solitary dead leaf falls at his feet. This is further proof, if proof were needed, that autumn's turning to winter, and that Soapy will need to take good care of himself over the next few months.