Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Fall is here.

Driving to work this morning I could see a heavy frost blanketing the grass and leaves in low-lying areas and stream banks. The first frost of the season. A harbinger of fall as surely as the first robin tells of spring coming. There’s a special magic to fall--a nip in the air, the acrid smell of wood smoke, apple cider, children in costumes. The leaves are beginning to change, but this year a drab yellow predominates. No matter. The pumpkins are visible in the fields, waiting to be harvested and transformed to jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pies. Apple trees stand with their branches bent; apple pies, caramel apples and cider waiting to be made.

Fall portends winter with its challenges. The wood needs to be cut and stacked in preparation for the chill of winter, but it is at last cool enough to comfortably perform the task. The rainy season begins as tropical storms move up the coast and turn summer’s dust into mud, but the water seeps into the ground and replenishes the aquifers that give us the water we need. The leaves fall and collect along the fence, demanding to be raked and removed lest they suffocate the grass. But they are shredded and made into mulch to protect tender plants through the cold months. The trees will soon be bare, but with the dropping of the leaves, the view from high spots dramatically increases. Every change that fall brings with it is compensated for.

Soon we move into winter, when sounds are magically muffled by the new fallen snow, the air becomes clear and crisp and a home assumes a certain magic as a warm, cozy retreat from the elements. Snowmen appear on lawns and winter sports bring long awaited recreation for the hardy. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Time to enjoy fall.