The end is near, the calendar says, though physical evidence offers some argument. Summer inexorably withdraws southward, following the Canada geese to their winter abode, but the lawn still needs periodic cutting.
We returned from a two-week road trip to the sound of a cricket holding forth from among the stones. It was an unexpected sound for mid-October. Temperatures the past few days have been in the 80s that should be at least 20 degrees lower, breaking records for highs set in 1908. Marsh Creek is shallower than it should be this time of year. Rain near the end of September raised the creek some, but a friend reports a boulder that is usually submerged all winter is about 18 inches exposed.
The low water is not unique to our region of Pennsylvania. As I left New England the other day, a radio report said water flows in three major rivers – among them the St. Johns, which is a major shipping route on the U.S./Canada border – are at levels unseen in more than 80 years.
There are those among the multitudes who likely would insist Summer’s departure follows the geese on their southward journey. Current temperatures lend credence to that notion. Nearly a month ago we watched as flights of Canada Geese V’d up and honked their way toward southern climes. Today, the temperature is 84 F, proving the geese were leaving before Fall arrived. The notion matches a belief that the waving trees cause the wind to blow. One has merely to observe trees in action to notice the distinct absence of air movement when the trees are still.
Facetiousness aside, Fall has long titled my favorite chapter in the annual epistle of time. Spring, of course, ushers in the growing period with layers of pastel hues. Summer is warm and alive but not really very exciting. And Winter is Earth’s resting period as it recuperates from eight or nine months of as it heralds the close of the quadri-seasonal record.
But Fall! Oaks, maples and birches set the hills ablaze in Technicolor display. Falling leaves blanket our motorized chariots; several times I have had to clean the windshield of leaves before I could begin to move toward my planned destination.
The Mums have nearly expired, though the lawn grass remains hardy. A few more trips around the yard will remove the vestigial remains of our oaks and Fire Bushes. Deer will come closer to the house, searching for tasty remnants of once-flowering shrubbery.
When I was a youngster, I helped bring in hay for the winter. I learned to use a scythe to cut the browning grass, and a wide, wooden-toothed rake to pull it into rows. When it was sufficiently dry, we hitched the tractor to a wagon with tall fence-like sides and headed for the field. As the trailer moved down the field, several of us would pitch the hay with a three-tined fork (called a “pitchfork”) into the wagon.
Then pitchfork it again from the wagon to the hay mow — the large upper portion of the barn where the loose hay was stored for feeding the cows in winter — and for jumping into from high rafters. Hay is bailed now, into huge bricks of cow food. Some is baled into rolls and wrapped into huge plastic-wrapped “marshmallows.” Jumping onto those tightly packed bales is not nearly as much fun as into a great pile of loose hay.
On the other hand, I’ve been known to wrap up an armload of grandkid and immerse ourselves in fallen leaves. I even know where there is one of the appropriate age. So let those leaves keep falling!