Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autumn in the Foothills

One of the big reasons we wanted to live here was to celebrate four seasons each year. Our least favorite is summer. We got enough summer living on the West Coast. There was so much summer that the ground would bake so hard that when the rains finally came, it would run off, not able to soak in properly, and then the national news would have a field day reporting on which hillsides had slipped and taken their payloads of expensive homes sliding down with them. 

Summer here got a little hotter than we wanted. When we returned from our month long road trip, we stopped in town for gas on our way home and it was 99° in town. I wasn't amused. We climbed a thousand feet into the foothills to our home, and it was 86° up here. That was nice. So we picked a good spot to retire. Often in the winter it works the other way, with our area being protected from the harshest winds and weather by those same foothills.

Autumn has just begun, and we've had some growling, rumbling thunderstorms, and a couple inches of really good rain. Usually our rains come in the afternoon and last an hour at most, traveling across the foothills leaving a good soaking and passing on through. This time we got a couple of days of steady rain, not hard, but enough to make music on the roof and lull a body to sleep. The sun is shining today, and the cloud formations are beautiful. The earth is drying, but the tree bark is saturated and looks like someone touched it up with new colored markers. The wet forest smell is remarkable. The deer come down in larger groups, enjoying the cooler weather, I imagine. Their coats are starting to turn a darker brown, thickening up for winter, and they're looking regal. Last year's male fawns have their first little horns, which look sort of like chop sticks, but they wear them proudly.

One of the things I like best about Autumn, though, is knowing that Winter is next. I love the snow — the clean purity and the look of the deer tracks threading through it. It's not the same in town, though, so if you're a city dweller, don't blame me for the hassle that snow causes. We have to go to town for our groceries and doctor's appointments, and it isn't pleasant. It's a gray mess, piled up and dirty, sometimes taking up half of a parking lot, causing accidents and flares of temper. But up here in the foothills, it's beautiful. The silence of the winter woods calms the spirit, and the regal beauty of the elk and deer wandering through, along with the ever present romping of the bunnies just makes me happy. 

Autumn is a feast for the senses. Not only is it a wonder of sight and smell, and and the feel of springy mosses and vegetation beneath damp sneakers as you walk the woods, it's a wonder of sound, as the elk enjoy sunset with their haunting calls, males bellowing their challenges to each other as they entice their females in the ancient mating rituals that guarantee another year of babes to protect and prolong the herds. Also, Autum offers us our final opportunities of the year for sitting around the campfire in the yard, grilling outside, enjoying afternoons in the high 70's, and sitting around talking with our neighbors outside. We wish you were here.


schmath said...

Your place sounds nice-like a scene strait out of Bambi. I watched Bambi II the other day. Allison Krauss sings in it.

Kathleen said...

I've never felt such a feeling of belonging anywhere. I'd love to share it with everyone. You're absolutely invited. I'll have to get Bambi II; didn't know Allison Krauss sang in it. Oh, for an angel's voice like she's got, but God doesn't take requests, as you know...