Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There's a Chill in the Air

I'm still in my shirt sleeves on my morning walk; but it feels like it won't be long before jacket weather.  We're coming up on my favorite season.  I have always loved the fall.  September especially.  The food is always best this time of year.  Fresh tomatoes, peaches, corn on the cob, pears, apples, air, abound.  It all tastes so good and inviting.  It tastes like success.  It tastes like God is good.  It tastes like pay day.  The fruit of our labors offering satisfaction and yet so full of humility because we're utterly dependent upon God for the harvest.  It is the time I'm most reminded of his love for us.  He didn't have to make the first frost tip the balance of sugar in a Golden Delicious apple to make it so luscious and sweet; but He did.  He didn't have to make the flavor of a fresh peach blend so well with the sweet smooth quality of cream.  He did have to, but it seems clear that He wanted to make our sojourn here a pleasant one.

I live in a desert.  Here we don't take rain for granted.  We manage the water carefully and count it an enormous blessing.  We've been through drought years and we've seem miraculous crops, when we expected none.  We grow wonderful hay in the most awful looking soil and bow in gratitude that something grows in this harsh and barren landscape.  We have sufficient for our needs; not only thanks to generous Providence but also to the foresight and industry of our fore-bearers.  Men and women who scraped out the canals, built the dams and developed the systems that enable us to have water for the entire growing season in a land that is lucky to get 10 inches of rainfall in a year.  This is a land of hopes and dreams and most of all faith.  Faith that for yet another year there will be crops to sustain us.  We never take that for granted.  We can't.  It's like standing on the ridge of a steep roof.  So much depends on balance.

I love September too because school begins again.  I always reset my calendar and my goals and dreams at this time of year rather than the first of January.  This time of year I am excited that I truly had a clean slate and so much to look forward to.  January was always so dreary and bogged down beneath snow and darkness and unfulfilled dreams from September.  This was the time of year that we received the bounty of last year's efforts and it seemed to be the right time to commence the challenges of next year.  It was the time of new clothes, empty notebooks, new ideas, new friends, and ever present bounty.  This is the time of results.  What better time to anticipate the next round of them.

Another important transition begins for me in September.  This is the end of the survival mode of living.  We've about got things tucked away for the winter.  Food in the pantry, so to speak.  Now commences   the more contemplative, restorative portion of the year.  The time to sit and read by the fire.  The time to mend the equipment and the bruises and bumps of a tough year.  Time to let the horses go unshod and fatten up on what's popping up in the hay field after the last cutting.  Time to learn, to plan, to dream, to relax, to indulge and to appreciate.

I think it is no wonder that the more prosperous societies have long been in the northern climes where the seasons change.  Perhaps it is because we had to be industrious to survive.  Likely so.  Don't think though, that the refreshing changes the seasons bring have a lot to do with keeping us motivated and looking forward. I've noticed that I'm seldom looking back as the seasons change.  This time of year I'm looking forward to cooler weather.  Toward the end of Fall I'm looking forward to long quiet evenings to enjoy reading and conversation.  By the end of Winter I can barely wait for flowers and greenery.  As summer approaches I'm longing for less wind and more steady weather and a chance to get outside and sweat a little.  Never am I looking back wishing for more of what I've just had.

When we lived in Southern California, I never had such sensations.  The weather didn't seem to change.  The sky was always the color of dirty dish water and temperature hardly varied.  It was so boring to have nothing startlingly different to look forward to.  I'll take a nasty bitter cold blizzard or a sultry hot swelter, or a week of tree bending wind, or an unexpected cold snap in early September over monotony any day.

I've been known to walk into the Bureau of Indian Affairs and ask for the weather chief.  When asked, "why," to explain that I just needed to thank someone for another wonderfully long and beautiful Indian Summer.  We get those quite regularly around here and I just want to thank the BIA for doing such a tremendous job!  Still, at the end of Indian Summer there is nothing quite so thrilling as that first snow fall.  You know, the one with the great big flakes that drift so slowly down you can ask them about the wife and kids before they melt on your tongue.  But I digress.  No point in missing fall for looking on to winter.

I'm going out to crunch some walnuts on the road and hit a fruit stand or two.  That'll do for today.  Tomorrow it will be corn on the cob from Brad's.  In a couple of weeks it'll be the smell of walnut leaves as I rake.  So much to enjoy.  So much to look forward to.

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