Early Signs

Dabs of fall color are already popping up along the roadside, a jostling reminder that the cold months will soon be coming to a theater near you.

Although the soft marsh maples have not yet started to sport their fall hues, the wetland purples and yellows are out, the red sumac fruit appeared weeks ago, the apples at the foot or my driveway are red, and acorns and other nuts are dropping while soft, ghostly hydrangea blossoms start to show. I don’t keep a journal of such things, but it seems to me that all of the above are way ahead of schedule, and so is the Rose of Sharon, which, in my memory, is also more typically a mid-August bloomer. And why wouldn’t these natural phenomena appear early after an early spring that was two and three weeks ahead? Before you know it, the hum of corn harvesters will be heard in the distance, truckfuls of silage will be roaring past my door, and the woodshed will be bloated to feed my soapstone stove.

I can’t say I find harbingers of fall depressing. I like cool weather, the upland romps for bird and beast, tremors from snow sliding to the ground off the slate roof; and I love dry wood heat, the product of my daily toil. I even enjoy filling the woodshed, once I’m finished and peering in to admire the massive indoor mound that’ll be mostly gone by May. I cannot honestly say I look forward to the sound of Blue Sky’s dump truck backing up to the sliding woodshed door, not to mention the pile of work he leaves behind; and I don’t enjoy writing him checks, either. Can you blame me? When I moved to Greenfield in 1997, firewood cost $80 a cord. Now it’s $225 or more. Can’t say my pay raises have kept pace with that spike, which doesn’t even address the increased cost of heating oil, groceries and just about every
other essential. But I get through it, as do many other New Englanders facing identical issues.

For the time being, I guess I’ll just enjoy the rest of summer, get my bird-hunting gear in order and wait for the leaves to fall, another annual phenomenon that brings chores I do not cherish. Snow-shoveling will follow, the worst of it deposited from the roof to the driveway in front of the carriage sheds, compacted, heavy and worthy of creative procrastination.

Why complain? We all endure similar seasonal hardships, then repeat them over and over again. But have you ever considered what life without four distinct seasons would be like?

I have. Not for me.

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