Despite the warm weather these past two days, I have to say I first sensed the downhill side of summer two weeks ago Friday, sitting along the walkway at the craft school late one auction night. People were dressed to the nines–high heels, platinum, hand-crafted clothing and all–and a gigantic tent had been erected outdoors with faux-walls and CAT-powered air-conditioning. But the clouds parted and the stars shown unencumbered down on the patio surrounding the tent. The air-conditioning was turned off and a few sweaters could be seen throughout the crowd.
That was the first week of August. Now, we’re tailspinning into September and today I saw a red leaf. Not high up in the white ash tree, but on the ground, cradled in a crusted boot print indicative of our drought summer. If I leave campus after dark, the katydids are singing there but not in the higher elevations once I get home. Likewise, the wasps and hornets are getting anxious. My dad got stung four times yesterday by one little bugger alone!
September will be a month of preparing. It’ll be time to financially commit to the Fork Mountain house for the winter, by which I mean I’ll have to throw anywhere between $300 and $1,000 into the tanks for heat. There’s a felled buckeye that my dad is going to buck up. (No way will I run a chainsaw by myself this far from other human beings. Really? Half a mile? I don’t think a femural artery bleed would let me get that far for help.) I can split it in the lower field, get help from a friend with four wheel drive to haul it up the to the wood shed, and stack from there. Just over the state line, a friend has offered a free truckload of wood if I’ll just come haul it away (they no longer heat with wood). That and all the downed branches from the trimming I had done on the maples this fall will suffice for the winter.
And so it begins; the measuring of days by temperature and sunlight. My friends say we still have one more heat wave to go and that surely I’m jumping the gun a bit. Not this year. I’ll be prepared for winter on Fork Mountain no matter what. So prepared I can already smell our first frost months before it hits.