The beginning of fall in Arkansas

Green leaves fade a little, curl up a little,and gather a bit in fours and fives under various trees. They look like indian teepees on the dusty pavement of the back roads. They huddle under the giant candelabras of wild daisy weeds and antique yellow goldenrods. The pine trees still give plenty of shade from the hot, August sun, but you can smell their tangy sap already seeping downwards to the loamy earth where their roots touch the homes of worms and beetles. Streams are running light and sometimes not at all. The frogs wait patiently along trails and roads for the dew that drips from the mists that roll out over the mowed hay fields late at night, when the moon hovers overhead, cut in half like a melon.

Dogs are quiet, waiting for September, October, November, before they begin howling with the wolves. Instead, they stalk the hushed roads, looking for any mouse or rat that peeks out from under the daisies and goldenrods a little too long. Most of the time, they get away.

Morning sunlight is orangey, like soda pop, and fizzes away the mists so quick you hardly have time to spot the drops of dew still ladled in the scoops of flat grasses and flower petals. The strange purple-pink passion flowers stand up in zigzagging lines tied to their green rope of a vine, and climb over logs next to the braver morning glories who slowly unfurl their star shaped cups at higher altitudes up and over old, wooden fence posts.

Gardens are venues for grasshopper concerts, as the insects march, sing, and munch on the grasses of summer that gardeners have finally tired of pulling. Tomatoes, green, and red, silently blast the air with perfume strange and sweet but as strong as a skunk’s. Is any garden a garden that doesn’t have that love apple in it that people once thought poisonous? How odd it would be to eat that sandwich, or salad, without that red delight called the tomato!

Cars grumble awake and young men and women take off for work with butterflies in their tummies. Old men and women open the door, breathe in thankfulness, and return to the tv and ponder why in over 60 years the news has changed so very little…

Tractors and lawnmowers and laborers move about in a pre-harvest frenzy, preparing for quick turns and slick slides in September and October mud. There is the hint of more to come, of colors moving from the roadside bouquets to the foliage above, where even now, a leaf or two has been painted in bright indian colors by pixies or fairies unknown, in practice for the rush to come. Even now, an excitement is building, like butterflies in the tummy, an anxiousness that is pleasurable, as the season moves from summer to autumn. Autumn, Fall, what strange words to use for a season of such beauty and celebration. With all that nature provides us in harvest time, is it any wonder that God made it look like the Earth was throwing a spectacular year’s-end party? The Judean religion celebrates the end of the year in the fall. Winter is like an in-between space, unnamed, and maybe unwelcomed, before the beginning of early Spring, and a new harvest of winter grains.

This year, when the leaves turn all the way, I’m going to treat them like party banners and decorations. I have a feeling that is exactly what they are. Just a feeling.

I hope you have a wonderful Autumn with me.

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