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By Rural Revolution
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Calling fall

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I’m trying to get back to some semblance of mental calm after the fire that hit our peninsula earlier this week. We’ve been deeply involved in fundraising efforts, as well as catching up with neighbors to assess the damage. It’s frustrating to be so far away at a time we wish we could be closer to help.

The following is a post I was assembling literally as we got the phone call to tell us about the fire. The subject seems trivial in light of the week’s drama, but frankly I need a break from the drama. So here goes….

Every year, Don has a little game he plays. He likes to “call” the first day of fall.

He’s been doing this for years and years. Clearly his “call” has nothing to do with the calendar (autumn equinox). It’s more of an indefinable feeling, a ghostly sense that summer is ending and autumn is on its way.

He called it last week, despite the 96F temperatures…

…and despite the thick smoke that has ringed the region for weeks on end.

I asked him to clarify how he “calls” fall. He says it’s almost a spiritual attunement. He was walking to the shop and heard a heavy silence. A pregnant pause. A frozen moment in time. The sky was pale blue with wispy pastel clouds. Some leaves, dry in the summer heat, rustled in a faint zephyr. Despite the silence, small noises were crisp and sharp – the crunch of gravel, the rattle of leaves. He said it’s a gut feeling, as though a page has been turned – as if the world just let out a sighing breath, “Okay, now comes the sleeping time.” (“Your mileage may vary,” he adds.)

Now that all the poetic stuff is out of the way, there seems to be some truth to his sense. The day he called fall was hot, but a dramatic weather change took place the next day. This was the temperature drop between one day and the next.

To that end, I’ve been observing signs of autumn. A few leaves on the ground…

A few dramatic clouds at sunrise…

And a lot of young bucks with velvet on their antlers.

The baby turkeys are growing up.

So are the baby deer.

And the fruit is ripening. Dear heaven, do we have fruit.

Black hawthorn.

Wild plums.


In fact, apples galore.

And blackberries. Lots and lots of blackberries.

Mr. Darcy has become a blackberry aficionado. He’ll stop and graze on our walks.

The hummingbirds have been incredibly active. Over the next month or so, I’ll start weaning them off the feeders so I don’t artificially delay their migration.

I won’t be unhappy to see the end of summer and welcome fall. It’s been months of dramatic heat, drought, and fire. Millions of others in the tinder-dry west are looking forward to the change of season as well.

Bring it on.


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