Slipping into autumn | News, sports, jobs
This is a delightful time of year, this slow slide from hot summer to gentle fall.
There’s nothing like the cool crispness of an autumn morning to bring a renewed pep to your step. I think this is an evolutionary adaptation. Cold nights are nature’s way of reminding us that the bad season whose nickname begins with the letter “A.” “w” – I refuse to call it here – is on her way and we’d better start preparing.
These preparations include corn hoarding. At least that’s what our native squirrels do, scurrying here and there, carrying ears of corn that weigh as much as the little thieves themselves. This would be analogous to a human moving a side of beef and burying it in a random spot in the garden.
Squirrels must have memory problems because they often forget where they grabbed their treats. Every spring, corn will sprout in areas where I know for sure corn was never grown. At least not by me.
The changing seasons bring about a shift in the way the outdoors smells. These days, when I take our dog, Bella, for a walk, we notice that the aromatic landscape changes as our surroundings change.
There is a certain set of characteristics that make up the aroma of ripe corn. It’s musty and earthy, with a slight background touch of dried corn sweat. It’s like a men’s locker room except the smell isn’t so strong that it puts you at risk of fainting.
We had another “If only” Growing season. “If only we could get a little rain!” We were muttering or, “If only that stupid rain cloud would gather together instead of dissipating once it reached our house!”
Unlimited access to a weather radar feed can be annoying. In the old days, we would read the clouds as they approached and hazard a guess as to what would happen in terms of precipitation. You may have a vague feeling that the weather gods were manipulating you, but you have no proof.
Nowadays, you can log on to a weather radar website and watch in real time as those promising rain clouds split in half once they arrive at your location. You can see it reforming minutes later and bathing the areas east of you with a large amount of rainwater. Weather radar is the main reason for rainfall envy.
We’ve had “If only” Growing seasons that were on the other side of the coin. “If only the rain would stop!” We will scream. “The weather is so wet that our cornfields have been taken over by bands of malicious mallards!”
Seeing the crops grow and mature during my walks is among life’s greatest pleasures. I watched corn and soybean seedlings emerge timidly from the soil, sending up little green telescopes to see if the world above was safe.
Not so, of course, but plants, ever the optimist, push up anyway. They’re a lot like fans of a losing sports team. “Just wait until next year!” It’s a cry for corn and soybeans who had a less-than-stellar growing season.
The trees are beginning to put on their autumnal garb, bursts of gold and rubies against a ruby sky. Its leaves will soon fall to the ground in a shower of colorful crunch.
The custom of collecting and burning leaves has fallen by the wayside. Thank goodness we’ve had enough smoke already from wildfires this summer. There were days when the outdoors were so smoky that anyone could make bacon by simply hanging a piece of salt pork on a clothesline.
It is best to let the leaves remain where they fall and decompose and add organic matter to the soil as nature intended. It’s just a coincidence that taking this position means I’ll be free from the exhausting chore of collecting and filing papers.
It was foggy on a recent morning when Bella and I went to our daily constitutional session. The fog seems to trap sounds and smells and amplify them. Even though they were two miles away, I could hear a herd of cows bellowing as clearly as if they were right next to us. The herd bull was roaring in the background like a cow backup singer.
Even at walking speed, we could detect subtle changes in temperature and odors. Here is the smell of ragweed on the side of the road. There is an aroma of ripe corn.
Bella and I discovered a certain scent and quickly picked up our pace.
Because no matter the season, no one enjoys the smell of skunk water.
— Jerry’s book, Dear District Attorney Jay, is available at http://Workman.com and in bookstores nationwide.
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