Usually flaming tree at Mill Dam park shows subdued hues this year.
- Squirrels race about to grab and bury plentiful nuts in the lawn. Chipmunks and birds stuff themselves to put on fat reserves. Trees are finally getting into the act, color breaks out overhead, even as the ground becomes more and more stiff dull brown. This year, the transition seems more condensed than usual, a frantic week or two in what is otherwise an extended month of change.
- Humans of course get into the act. There are suddenly lots of chores which are pleasant enough while the weather is fine and slightly cool, but absolutely awful tasks once the deep cold, frost, November gales, and heavy rains set in. Plant bulbs, clean yards, put away summer stuff. Not to mention trying to squeeze in a few more moments pleasantly walking through woodlands, sitting on the beach, or just strolling around the neighborhood.
Boats are now coming in for winter storage, a constant and busy noise at these docks.
- Our patio is almost its own microclimate: shielded from the north winds by the house, facing south although partially shaded, flagstones to retain heat. Joan tends it carefully every spring and summer, sadly watches its decline in autumn, and has only the feeding birds to remind her of its floral glories in warmer months.
- The spring and fall are busy times. In October, after things die back but before (hopefully) the onset of nasty weather, we have to bring in things like the umbrella and bistro set, drain the fountain. Clear out dozens of pots and place them under an overhang to be sheltered from snow. Clear flower beds of weeds and dying growth. Plant bulbs for the spring. Put hoses into the shed. I get tired just listing things to do _ but the fact is that like many such things, thinking about them is harder than just getting them done.
A few trees are fully denuded, but they seem almost out of place.
- If you don’t like the weather, wait an hour.
- Applicable this month _ if you do like the weather, seize each transitory moment.
Last vestiges of warmth reflecting in calm waters.
- I imagine by now hibernating creatures have their burrows well prepared. Migratory birds are far along their allocated flyways. Annuals have condensed into nothing but seeds. Deciduous trees are about the make their annual statement to the landscape, announcing to one and all what season has come.
- Indoors, we have some of the same rituals. Put away the bathing suits and shorts. Get out the gloves and long pants and wool caps and boots. Check the status of the snow shovels. At least locate the long underwear, flannel shirts, and heavy socks. We may not hibernate, but our homes also reflect what is happening outside the windows.
Chipmunks grab some last bites for dinner before their upcoming long nap.
- Centuries ago, especially in Europe and its northern colonies, this was a time of feasting, if there were to be any feasting. Beginning in September as some of the fruits and vegetables were so abundant that “use it or lose it” became true, through the shortest day to come, it was almost obligatory to add every extra pound of fat for warmth and to help through the lean times to follow.
- Now we feast every day, year round, and never get into enforced starvation nor limitations. Yet the feast days remain in autumn, always encouraging to eat more, as if we were woodchucks or chipmunks or bears. We look at such creatures and rationalize “ah, we are just like them, so this extra weight is fine and natural.” But we are not.
Squirrels busily hide nuts by digging holes all over our lawn. I can’t believe they find them later.
“Mommy, I don’t want to wear this jacket.”
“It’s cold, dear, you must or you will get a cold.”
“But it makes me sweat. I don’t like it, I can’t run fast.”
“You will need to get used to it, this is just the start. Look at the trees.”
“What about them, Mommy?”
“See how they are colored? Soon all the leaves will fall down as they go to sleep.”
“But I still don’t want my jacket. Can I at least leave it open?”
“Ok, dear,” she replies with a smiling sigh.
Last leaves on the vines climbing evergreens add their subtle fall colors to the mix.
Violin’s autumn sobs are long
But not in this bright warmer year
I stroll about no jacket on
Untouched by normal season’s fear.
Uncertain world resists the rhymes
Contradicts each mournful song
I find it comforting to find
That poetry is sometimes wrong.