Tag Archives: autumn

Preserving Seasons

Well, it’s fall. Not only do the somewhat cooler weather, earlier sunset, and high school football tell us it is autumn; now the calendar corroborates our suspicions. It’s official.

I think I take summer somewhat for granted. Leaving the house in the morning without a jacket, enjoying the long days, and experiencing the amazing colors and textures of summer’s foliage – they seem to be what normal is, and what every day will be tomorrow, next week, and next month. But, that point of view only works if a person lives on the south or west coast of our country.

There is a kind of amnesia about winter, I think. Once it’s gone for the year come March, April, or May – depending on the season – I think a part of us think it’s gone forever. It’s something we’ve survived, like the measles.

Now, though, with the weather slowly changing, the crickets chirps growing slower and slower, and the appearance of the occasional leaf drifting down to the ground, our amnesia fades, and we realize another summer has come and gone.

For people with gardens and fruit trees, autumn is the time to harvest and, in many cases, preserve produce for later use. In many cases the time, effort, and energy that goes into “putting things up” probably costs more than buying things at the grocery store, but opening a jar or a freezer bag of something you’ve grown yourself sometimes calls to mind summertime, and the hope that there will be another one coming around soon.

I find that working in the garden these days is bitter sweet. There are still flowers to enjoy, some of the vegetables are still growing, and the bugs aren’t very active. I find that pulling this year’s weeds to reduce the proliferation of next year’s is gratifying, but feels a little like finally fixing the front steps before you sell your house. You scold yourself for not doing it sooner.

And, there’s no getting around the fact that fall is the end of something. The growing season is over, the warmth soon will be, and the days of doing things outside after dinner are numbered. And, just as spring is a great metaphor for birth and growth and life, fall is the beginning of the end, as all the green around us fades to different shades of brown and gray.

One giant upside to fall this year is that the annual battle to paint the porch floor before the weather is too cold has been won. We painted it a few weeks ago. Honestly, any “to do” list that spans decades is a sign of big problems, so it’s a relief to have gotten that done.

I figure that a person is lucky to have 100 summers, and some people have far, far fewer. Being around to see a summer end, and an autumn begin, is much more of a gift than we usually comprehend. With any luck at all, not that many months from now we’ll be enjoying a “warm” 55 degree day, and making plans for the new spring and summer days that will follow.

For now, it’s time to peel some apples and pick some tomatoes, and get them, and me, ready for the winter to come.

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Filed under 2013

Aptly Named State Park

I’m sure there was a gentle breeze floating amongst the falling and fallen leaves, making a wonderfully wistful sound, but unfortunately, I was only able to hear my labored breathing and pounding heart.  The steps… they just kept coming.  Step after craggy stone step.  From up ahead I heard a voice asking if I was all right.  “Yes,” I cheerfully answered.  I lied.

It all started with the innocent suggestion, last Sunday, that we drive over to Devil’s Lake State Park.  It was a beautiful day, and the activity we had planned to undertake had to be scrubbed, so rather than sitting in the recliner watching the Packers, I thought we might take a leisurely stroll in nature.

The drive there was pleasant.  I especially like the ferry ride at Merimack.  Although, I always keep my eyes peeled for the Monitor.  (That was a Civil War navel battle joke, for those keeping score.)  We arrived to find the park office closed, so we headed off in what seemed to be a likely direction for a walk.

The air was cool, but we were dressed for it.  We passed some fisher-persons who were spending their afternoons watching bobbers and catching fish.  We kept walking.  We met some hikers who advised us of a trail up through the wooded hill overlooking the lake.  They were our age or so, and seemed to have survived it okay, so we started up the path, which, if my memory is correct, included around 8,000 steps upward.

I knew I was out of shape.  I didn’t know how badly.  The first thousand or so steps weren’t bad, but somehow the gentle slope we viewed from ground level had become Pike’s Peak.  Finally, we reached a plateau of sorts, and once I regained my ability to breathe normally and stand up straight, I could see that the view was breathtaking.  A perfect fall day in a very nice park.  Large quartzite boulders tinged with pinkish-purple, a very blue sky, and hillsides splashed with browns and yellows and reds of the remaining leaves.

I was thinking of calling Medflight, but instead we carefully worked our way back down the hill.  The steps and rocks were quite slippery due to the dry leaves and the dust they left.  Plus, by that time my legs felt pretty rubbery, and going down a hill works a whole different set of muscles than walking up.  Thanks to gravity, breathing wasn’t a problem, and my heart mostly regained its composure.

The walk back was close to the shore on a semi-paved path through giant boulders.  It’s very impressive, and makes a person think of the power of the glacier that moved those huge stones around. 

All told we probably covered less than five miles.  I’m pleased to say that I didn’t have a heart attack, and if I am smart, it will have served as a good start on an exercise program. 

I’m not sure why that body of water is called Devil’s Lake, but after having taken that leisurely Sunday afternoon hike, I think I might have a pretty good idea.

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Filed under 2010