Layers and fleeting fall days
Columnist Jessie Veeder writes this week about making the most of warm, fall days. She writes, "I can’t help but think that autumn is like the nice friend who slowly walks over to your lunch table with the news that your boyfriend doesn’t want to go out with you anymore. And my boyfriend is summer."
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — There’s a moment between summer and late fall at the ranch that’s so good at being glorious that it actually makes us all believe we could last forever under a sky that’s bright blue and crisp and warm and just the right amount of breezy all at the same time.
Up here we’re easily swayed to forget about the drama that is our seasons. I imagine it’s a coping mechanism we develop that gets us crazy stoic people through -20 degree temperature snaps.
It’s forgetting that gets us through, but it’s remembering, too. The combination is an art form.
Because at -20 degrees we remember that one day it will be sunny and 75.
And when it’s sunny, 100 degrees and 100% humidity and there’s not a lake in sight, we remember the -20 degrees and somehow find a way to be grateful for it all.
Yes, we keep taking off layers and putting them on again until we make ourselves the perfect temperature.
Funny then how we’re not really good at giving the in-between moments the credit they’re due around here. We usually grab them up and soak them in just enough to get some work done on a horse, paint the house, wash the car or get the yard cleaned up for winter.
Because we’re taught up here to use those perfect moments to prepare us for the not-so-perfect ones that are coming.
That’s why fall, though a romantic season for some, gives me a little lump in my throat that tastes a lot like mild panic.
Because while the pumpkins are nice and the apple cider tastes good enough, I can’t help but think that autumn is like the nice friend who slowly walks over to your lunch table with the news that your boyfriend doesn’t want to go out with you anymore.
And my boyfriend is summer. And when he’s gone, I’m stuck with the long and drawn out void that is winter promising Christmas, a hint of a sledding party and a couple shots of schnapps to get me through the break-up.
Hear what I’m saying?
But the change is beautiful. I can’t help but marvel at it no matter its underlying plot to dry up the leaves and strip them from their branches and jump start my craving for carbohydrates and heavy whipping cream in everything.
So I always decide to give it the credit it’s due when it starts to show off in full form, taking a break from the office and house work to marvel at the leaves, collect some acorns and walk the trails the cattle and deer cut through the trees during the heat of summer.
I will never call this moment a season, it’s too fleeting and foreboding for that, but I will reach out and touch those golden leaves and call it a sort of magic.
The kind that only nature can perform, not only on those leaves, but also on the hair on a horse’s back, the fat on the calf, the trickling creek bed, the tall dry grasses, used up flowers and a woman like me.
Yes, I’m turning, too. My skin is lightening. My hunger unsuppressed. My eyelids heavy when the sun sinks below the hill much earlier than my bedtime.
My pants a little tighter with the promise of colder weather.
Ok. I’ve been reminded. Summer–a month of electric thunderstorms and endless days, sunshine that heats up my skin and makes me feel young and in love with a world that can be so colorful–is over.
And so I’m thankful for the moment in these trees to be reminded that I have a little time yet, but I best be gathering those acorns.
And pulling on my layers.
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Greetings from the ranch in western North Dakota and thank you so much for reading. If you're interested in more stories and reflections on rural living, its characters, heartbreaks, triumphs, absurdity and what it means to live, love and parent in the middle of nowhere, check out more of my Coming Home columns below. As always, I love to hear from you! Get in touch at email@example.com.