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Meditations for Autumn

GAYS MILLS - Autumn. What a lovely word. So much more descriptive, poetic, and evocative than plain old ‘Fall.’ Well, it’s beginning to happen all around us, will officially begin on the September 22, and it has caused me to ponder the wonders of it all.

You take a morning drive through fog down in the Driftless coulees now and get up on top of our Ocooch Mountains, about 300 feet high, to look down on valleys full of cotton white clouds of moisture. Humidity you can see. It’s a seasonal marvel and a beautiful sight to those of us lucky enough to live here and an unexpected special treat for people who visit our area. The fog burns off by mid-morning and leaves a refreshed world that feels different than summer. A sunny day in autumn is much more comfortable with the humidity of summer just a recent memory.

The air is crisper in autumn. It smells different, feels different. Foliage of every kind, crops, trees, flowers, gardens, is definitely past its prime and starting to show signs of wear in their short lives. A few leaves have fallen already, stressed out by a dry spell and some stiff winds. Soon the brilliant colors of hardwoods will put on their annual show and we’ll all become wannabe photographers to try to capture the calendar worthy scenes that surround us. And then, we rake.

As excited as I am at the start of the garden season, I’m usually just as, what?, relieved, when it comes to an end. To everything there is a season and this has been a good garden season, but it’s time to move on. I did have to water quite a bit this year and re-realized that a half-inch of rain equals many applications of cold well water. The tomatoes, peppers, chard, beans, squash, and potatoes all thrived. And of course, the therapeutic value of working with soil and plants is immense.

Fall weather is great work weather. You may start out the day in a sweatshirt, end the day in a T-shirt and find it easier to work all day long. And, there is much to do. Winter preparations for the house, yard work, garden harvest and cleanup and so forth. 

Gathering firewood is still in vogue here, although fewer and fewer people burn wood. I still enjoy and am able to ‘make wood’ and especially burn wood; the comfort and satisfaction of a wood fire is rewarding. I’m long on seasoned wood right now and need to start moving it closer to where it will be used. What wood I cut and split in the next couple of months will be used in 2022 and beyond. Happiness is a large woodpile.

I hope you take time to enjoy the many joys of autumn.