It seems to me that the few weeks between when the heat and humidity of summer dissipates and those icy arctic winds of winter commence is probably the most pleasant of all seasons. The warm shirt-sleeve days with tolerable humidity and the cool evenings suitable for a light sweater make being outdoors comfortable. Then, too, lotsa other things contribute to my general feeling of well being at this particular time of year.
That was my general line of thought recently when we took a day trip to attend a kinds mini-reunion of my high school class. (We celebrated the 65th anniversary of our graduation several years ago and there was growing concern there might not be a 70th so we decided to get together while some of us could still make it.) Our journey of a little over two hours each way was almost entirely via two lane U S highways – except for a short stretch on a four lane, limited access road. This route meant we had to go through several small towns and villages – you know, the kind with only one or two traffic lights in the entire “metropolitan” area – but mostly we just kinda cruised through the countryside in our 12 year old gasoline/electric hybrid – which gave us a tad over 50 miles per gallon.
Since we didn’t have to be concerned about Interstate traffic with its 85 miles an hour NASCAR wannabe’s weaving from one lane to another and huge trucks trying to make schedule, we could enjoy the beauty of the fall landscape. There’s something about seeing soybeans and corn being harvested – with some fields reaching to the horizon – that makes a body appreciate the richness, the abundance, this country provides. Then, too, the leaves are starting to turn red and gold which kinda adds to that contented feeling.
One scene from this trip particularly stands out. We passed a white-painted country-crossroads church complete with stained glass windows and a high steeple. Although it was “out in the middle of nowhere” as the saying goes, it was obviously well maintained – and it had a backdrop of trees that were just starting to show their fall colors. Looked like a picture postcard.
Our get-together was held at a kinda “country inn” setting – not quite out in the middle of nowhere, but off a secondary road between two towns, and surrounded by agricultural fields. It’s decorations of pumpkins and potted mums sure added to the ambiance of the day. (“Ambiance” is a neat three dollar word that kinda means “atmosphere” or “environment”, but hints of something more elegant.) Anyway, my only problem on the trip was trying to figure out who all those old people were. You know, the parallelism of our getting together in the autumn of the year and the autumn of our lives made this quite a memorable occasion.
Okay, moving on. Another feature of this time of year is the return of football – a sport I enjoyed playing many decades ago. I never cared for those sweat-drenched late summer practices nor the late season when the ground was frozen or slippery with snow and ice. Nope, I liked those warm days and cool evenings – and didn’t mind the warm rain. When my playing days ended and I became a spectator, these preferences stayed with me although now I rely on electronic “attendance”. Regardless, football season is welcome.
There’s more to these few pleasant weeks that I find enjoyable – including finishing up that annual touch-up outside painting I’ve been meaning to do. And then there’s getting the yard, including the vegetable and flower beds, ready for winter – and the final lawn fertilizing. The patio furniture needs stowed as do the garden hoses. Then, too, the wood for the fireplace needs to be restacked – don’t want to hafta do that with the snow flying. Yep, lotsa kinda agreeable busy work.
There’s one chore, a labor of love so to speak, that I do each year at this time. I have several large geraniums outside in planters that I repot and move inside for the winter – and then I transplant them again outside in the spring. This a challenging operation but I’ve been successful for several years and thus have had fresh blooming flowers inside all winter. I’d not like to see these sturdy plants freeze so I take advantage of this stretch of weather to move them inside.
Well, there’s lots more to like about these few weeks, but you know what? Before long we’ll be looking forward to seeing the first snowflake – you know, “Hey, it’s snowing outside!” And then it’ll be time for sitting in front of a nice fire in the fireplace, sipping hot chocolate, and reading a good book. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.