Remnants, Beauty, and Bliss: the Changing of the Seasons at Home

Summer and Autumn often walk hand in hand during the month of October, down in the Arkansas Delta where I grew up.  Summer puts on its last, most beautiful dress to show up Autumn, who’s always been an unapologetic fashionista.  They chase each other, they execute complicated partner-dance moves, they scream and fight and soothe and kiss.  They are the closest of sisters and the most ruthless of rivals.  Weather-wise, for us mere mortals, this can be by turns beautiful and frustrating.  Where flora and fauna are concerned, it is most assuredly beautiful.

Yesterday was the first day of deer season.  My sweetheart and I will be marking the perimeter of his family’s land, near the base of the Ouachita Mountains, with “No Hunting” purple paint over the next couple of days, if the rain will allow us.  This will discourage hunters and poachers (we hope) from trespassing, and it will give us a little more margin for error, as far as not getting shot at when we walk on our own property is concerned.  We are pretty far out in the country, and the danger of being mistaken for quarry is very real this time of year.  I expect to see a lot of deer and other beasts seeking sanctuary in our woods as the colder weather sets in.  For now, the leaves of the trees on the levee are just starting to change their colors from green to gold and red.  Daring pioneers, mostly sweet gum maples, are taking the initiative to shift their uniforms, trusting the rest to follow.

Many flocks of geese and families of deer as well as ducks, herons, and bald eagles have seen fit to visit our land in past years.  One day, during my first winter on the land, I counted thirteen great blue herons and five bald eagles, all visiting the lake at one time.  Seeing them all present, as if attending a great meeting, their forms in flight against the silver sky or at rest next to water and snow, was a wonder.

This past Friday evening, as I drove south on US highway 65 to my mother’s home, I was struck by the sight of the last riot of wild hibiscus in the ditches beside the road, fiercely green, white and red in the face of the coming cold, reveling in the rainfall.  These, in conjunction with lush cotton fields behind them, just on the other side of the railroad tracks, made for a vibrant color scheme against the stormy gray sky of early evening.  Harvest time is here, but the summer flowers could care less.

For several weeks now, Arkansas weather has flip-flopped from sun to rain, from thunderstorms to picnics, and from warm enough to swim to cold enough for boots.  I can only imagine the new depths of intensity (and discomfort) that climate change will bring.  For now, I can see the beauty in it, and I’m very grateful for that.