Monday, November 10, 2008
THE OTHER AUTUMN
Today is really a good example of the “other autumn,” which is how I’ve come to think about the season’s second half. When someone says the word “autumn” we mentally conjure up an image straight off October’s calendar, of multicolored leaves and bright blue skies. In fact, there's an old proverb, a sort of palindrome, that says, 'fall leaves after leaves fall.' This, of course, ignores the truth by overlooking that autumn officially begins the last part of September and continues until the winter solstice in late December. Autumn is more more enduring than a few weeks of patchwork leaves. The season in its entirety must be given it's due. Looking out the window, I now see a yard carpeted in rather monotone brown leaves. Too, the sky is thick with woolly clouds as gray as old socks. The river runs dark and sullen. Yet this too is a face of autumn. Less picturesque, perhaps, but no less a part of the season. It’s also cold out—currently 30 degrees, with the day’s high predicted in the low-40s. Last night, about 9:30, I heard an odd sound of something rattling against the windows. It didn’t quite sound like wind-blown leaves, and I thought it was too cold for rain. Curious, I got up, looked out, and in the yellowish porch light saw sleet pellets scattered across the front deck. Our first wintry intimation. Pretty much on schedule, too; a November foretaste of things to come. During the past week, by contrast, we enjoyed a spell of Indian Summer—days in the 70s, cloudless skies the color of just-starting-to-fade denim. I spent much of my time gathering wood for next year’s fires—loading log chunks into the wheelbarrow from a neighbor’s two huge hackberries which toppled several weeks ago as aftermath winds from Hurricane Ike roared through the area. One of the big trees landed partially across the top of his garage, so he had to wait for the busy tree trimmers sent by his insurance company to clear and cut them. I’ve now hauled all the sections I can heave into the wheelbarrow. Those remaining are simply too heavy, being two feet long and thirty inches and more in diameter. More than my bad back can handle. I may be able to roll a few more of these crossections to my woodpile, seeing as how we’re only talking a few hundred feet, and most of that at least slightly downhill. Otherwise, these enormous rounds will have to wait until I can scare up ample help or else rent a power splitter. In the meantime, I have plenty of wood splitting with maul, axe, and wedge to keep me busy. As a rough estimate, I’d say I have perhaps four or five cords, of which, maybe two-thirds will require at least one split. Lots of work…but I look at it as money—and heat—in the bank.